"We represent clients in the procedures related to White Collar Crime," notes Tetiana Lysovets, senior partner of Sokolovskyi and Partners Law Firm

"We represent clients in the procedures related to White Collar Crime," notes Tetiana Lysovets, senior partner of Sokolovskyi and Partners Law Firm

Criminal practice is one of the most demanded and fast-paced in the legal business. What are the tendencies in the White Collar Crime practice, what effect the latest legislation changes have on it and how legal tech can help to protect the clients’ rights- We asked Tetiana Lysovets, attorney at law, Senior partner of Sokolovskyi and Partners Law Firm, head of litigation practice

 – What’s new brought the changes in the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) of Ukraine into the work of a practising lawyer, the so-called mask-show stop?

– It is rather naive to expect drastic improvement of the situation after the introduction of the Law No. 2213-VIII. However, the possibilities for asserting the clients’ rights did extend. The lawyers are now expected to show more careful or, I’d rather say, ­a deeper approach to all details of the defence process.

For example, a novel that binds the investigator to allow an attorney at law  to any stage of the search. Before that, the law enforcement officers considered this issue to be of their own discretion: they may allow it or they may not. You had to be very persistent, stubborn and smart to overcome their resistance and get to your client. Practising attorneys at law are not new to such situations. Now, it is in the best interests of the investigator to provide such access, otherwise, the investigation results will be deemed incompetent evidence. However, CPC norms do not oblige the law enforcement officers to initiate the notification or call for a defender  and do not forbid to start the procedure without him. We should remember that. For this reason, the new rules are useless without the request of the person under search to involve an attorney at law.

 – Please tell us about the criminal practice of Sokolovskyi and Partners.

 – The criminal practice in our country was developing alongside with tax practice. Charges of tax liabilities are often accompanied by the opening of a criminal proceeding under Article 212 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, and the demand for the amount of VAT recoverable may result in criminal prosecution under Article 191 of the Criminal Code (misappropriation, embezzlement or attempted appropriation of state property by abuse of authority). Sometimes the law enforcement officers back up these cases with articles 358 (forgery of documents), 366 (forgery by an official) or retrain it to article 367 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (official negligence).  

This is how our criminal practice came to life. Today, we represent the interests of our clients mainly in proceedings on economic and business offences — White Collar Crime. These processes are notable for the necessity to protect not only officials (or specific entrepreneur) but business in general. In this case, it is impossible to provide efficient legal assistance without good knowledge and deep understanding of tax, civil and economic law and business processes.

We need to fight on all fronts. During criminal proceedings on tax evasion, it is necessary to appeal against the results of tax inspection. But it’s much more than that. I believe that it is important to take an active position at the pre-trial investigation and “force” your “agenda” on the investigator. It is obligatory to specify information testifying in favour of the client without misrepresentation and twisting in the interrogation report regardless of the matter of the issues or investigators desires. In the search protocols, it is necessary to specify as many violations as possible allowing to return withdrawn property or recognise it as incompetent evidence. Each significant violation by the investigator or prosecutor shall be appealed to the investigating judge or at least procedural controller. The list goes on.

This is possible only with the help of a solid professional team where each member performs his own task but works for the common result. Our clients help us with that. They are prepared to handle abnormal situations.

 – What tools do you use to teach your clients the basics of defence?

Usually, we carry out regular training in the clients’ companies, assess the acquired knowledge and monitor the availability of samples of applications and requests in case of search. Preparation to interrogation is also an integral part of protective measures complex.

This year we elaborated algorithms for chatbots - “Witness Interrogation” and “Search”. Now they are combined in “Attorney in smartphone” bot aggregator. Electronic assistants give a step-by-step guide for efficient defence. In particular, the “Search” bot successfully helps the client to hold on till our arrival. We always insist that our clients look through it several times in quiet surroundings. I recommend the lawyers who do not specialise in criminal law to use such assistants in their work too. We had a funny incident recently. Tax police officers told one of our attorney at law that they also use our bots. Let’s hope to God! We support the general improvement of legal culture!