(L-R) Debevoise & Plimpton associate Boxun Yin, partner Patrick Taylor and associate Laurence Hanesworth; Legal Week commercial director Thomas Pearson; and Slaughter and May associates Lavinia de Nazelle and Marcus Field

Finalists: Burges Salmon (highly commended); DWF; Shearman & Sterling.

Debevoise & Plimpton and Slaughter and May landed the Regulatory and Investigations Team of the Year award for their joint entry involving Rolls-Royce and its response to bribery and corruption allegations.

The matter centred around investigations by authorities in the UK, US and Brazil into Rolls-Royce’s dealings with intermediaries in a number of overseas markets. The firms jointly advised the company on the investigations, assisting with enquires from the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the US Department of Justice, and coordinating the subsequent resolution (while avoiding further investigations, a lengthy court prosecution and a possible criminal conviction).

The case resulted in Rolls-Royce signing a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) in the UK and the US (the first time a DPA had been agreed in the UK with a bluechip FTSE 100 company and the first time the SFO agreed a DPA simultaneously with overseas prosecutors), and a leniency agreement in Brazil.

The scale and scope of the investigation required astute project management skills, involving the review of more than 30 million documents and 229 internal interviews, while interacting with three investigating agencies with different legal systems and enforcement approaches. “By far the leading entry – a landmark, complex, high-profile case,” a judge remarked.