Businesses are increasingly challenged to promptly and effectively identify, assess and manage rapidly changing risks, including exposure to litigation, regulation and enforcement. The ability to respond strategically and in a timely way to existing and emerging situations that threaten the business and reputation of an organization, as well as that of its executives, directors and advisors, is a paramount concern for corporations and their boards today. These challenges are significantly heightened in regulated industries and for those organizations engaged in regulated activities such as the financial sector and public companies. Recent market developments such as increased regulatory oversight, expansion of jurisdiction by the courts, the rise of activist shareholders, heightened and constant public scrutiny in Internet-focused media, and a litigious consumer base have increased corporate exposure to litigation and other risks in Canada and around the world.
Risk is multi-faceted. It is not confined within self-contained silos in any organization: an issue that arises in relation to one business unit, discipline, product line or department can have far-reaching effects on other parts of the organization. Neglected and mismanaged risk can have a costly financial, operational and reputational impact upon the whole organization, its leaders and its stakeholders.
Members of Osler’s cross-disciplinary Risk Management and Crisis Response practice understand the multi-dimensional and potentially destructive character of unattended risk. Our team provides customized support responsive to the client’s needs, whether those needs relate to proactive prevention and compliance or a response to specific threatened or actual situations. We employ a holistic, enterprise-wide approach to assist clients to identify, assess and proactively mitigate risk and exposure. When risk becomes a tangible and identifiable threat, our collaborative team can develop a considered strategic response to confront, address and manage any “crisis” situation to lead to a timely, effective and practical resolution. We work with boards, independent directors or board committees, in-house counsel and senior executives in connection with a variety of matters at leading companies.
Our team draws on our national specialists across a broad range of expertise, including capital markets regulation and enforcement, investment funds, anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, competition, corporate governance, securities and consumer class actions and other litigation, privacy and data security, environmental and white collar crime, and regulatory investigations and enforcement.
Our lawyers have expert knowledge, practical experience and access to a broad network of supporting experts in Canada and elsewhere. We bring the benefit of strong working relationships with senior personnel at every financial regulator in Canada, as well as with numerous regulators and officials internationally. Larry Ritchie, our practice chair, recently returned to Osler after retiring from his previous roles as Vice-Chair of the Ontario Securities Commission and Executive Vice President and Senior Policy Advisor to the Canadian Securities Transition Office.
Our fully integrated team is uniquely positioned to provide customized, comprehensive service offerings in both proactive, preventive risk management and strategic crisis response.
Preventative Risk Management services may include:
- Counseling boards of directors in preparing for and avoiding crisis situations including the development of best practices for application within the organization;
- Conducting compliance reviews to identify high risk issues for potential business practice regulatory violations and advising on solutions;
- Conducting reviews and assessments of “whistleblower” and internal complaint handling protocols, compliance policies and programs;
- Providing strategic advice on anticipating and complying with evolving regulatory requirements including reviewing, drafting and advising on policies, codes of conduct and internal procedures;
- Developing proactive risk management strategies with respect to advance preparation for regulatory response and investigative "special committee" matters;
- Advising on disclosure requirements, including on complex obligations of whether, when and how to make appropriate disclosure of internal complaints, allegations of wrongdoing, internal investigations, requests for information from regulators or other governmental agencies;
- Conducting risk assessments on governance, accountability structures and protocols;
- Advising foreign and domestic regulators and government agencies with respect to the development of policy; and
- Providing proactive litigation risk assessment to any fact scenario.
Crisis Response services may include:
- Advising boards of directors, officers, employees and advisors in responding to any actual or potential extraordinary crisis situation including:
- government investigations
- shareholder activism
- data or security breaches
- the sudden illness or departure of company leadership
- discovery of unexpected accounting problems or compliance failures
- hostile takeover bids
- internal complaints; and
- whistleblower allegations
- Providing advice on, overseeing and managing internal investigations
- Advising on, overseeing and managing responses to requests for information from financial regulators, including securities, banking, anti-bribery/money laundering and competition matters (enforcement and audits)
- Acting as litigation counsel and advising on a litigation arising from extraordinary circumstances, including class actions, shareholder issue disputes, and shareholder activism