Transatlantic firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has become the latest City firm to boost its white-collar crime practice in anticipation of a surge of cases.

The firm says the appointment of barrister Mukul Chawla QC is in response to increasing demand from corporate clients who want guidance on criminal liability.

Mukul Chawla

Mukul Chawla

In the last few months firms across the City have been blostering their white collar practices. In March City firm Macfarlanes set up a practice and hired Eversheds partner Neill Blundell, while in April Greenberg Traurig hired former Pinsent Masons partner Barry Vitou to lead its white-collar defence and special investigations practice in London.

Other high profile moves include the former Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders, due to join the business crime team at magic circle firm Linklaters, and the potential arrival of ex-SFO chief David Green at Slaughter and May.

Chawla, who joins from Foundry Chambers, will lead the UK corporate crime team in London, part of its global investigations practice. The QC represents clients on fraud, bribery and corruption and money laundering and has acted as lead adviser to the SFO.

Nathan Willmott, co-head of BCLP’s global investigations practice, said clients are demanding the ‘highest level of support’ for advice in instances where they face potential corporate criminal liability. ‘Mukul’s hire is in order to meet this client demand,’ he added.

The firm said firms are at higher risk of corporate liability due to changes in the law, increased funding for the SFO coupled with the introduction of deferred prosecution agreements, and international support for clamping down on bribery and corruption.

Chawla said: ‘The need to manage potential criminal liability has become a core issue for the boards of major corporates with operations in the UK, as many recent cases have illustrated.’ He will join the firm in October.