Does the Attorney-Client Privilege Survive in the Corporate Compliance Investigation: A Recent Decision in <i>United States ex rel. Barko v. Halliburton Company et al.</i>
11 March 2014Investigations, White Collar and Fraud Alert
On March 6, 2014, the District Court for the District of Columbia issued an opinion in Barko that has the potential to disrupt the manner in which companies conduct compliance investigations, particularly in regulated industries such as the defense industry. The opinion found no attorney-client privilege or work product immunity for an investigation conducted by Halliburton’s Office of Business Conduct because the investigation was required both by law, under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), and internal policy. The court relied heavily on the fact that the investigation was conducted by non-lawyers and would have been done even absent the involvement of the legal department. Although there are certain flaws in the court’s reasoning, this case — if widely adopted — could cause significant disruption in existing corporate compliance and investigation programs.