JUVE Law Firm of the year

White Collar Crime and Tax Criminal Law

From diesel to dividend stripping

In recent months, there have been more topics deserving of an in-depth discussion than usual: the Code of Criminal Procedure reform, the most recent rulings by the European public prosecutor’s office, the European Investigation Order coming into force and the shift of responsibility for money laundering to the customs authorities.

But the past year was dominated by other areas: the diesel scandal and the raid at VW’s representative Jones Day. Now, for the first time, the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) is set to tackle the question of which documents may be confiscated from internal investigations at law firms.

The countless investigations into dividend stripping (“cum-ex”) deals, which even kept a board of inquiry busy, are just one expression of the importance attached to tax criminal law now. On top of this was the involvement of investigators, especially in Nordrhein-Westfalen, in evaluating earlier voluntary declarations, triggering a flood of investigative proceedings against banks and individuals.

Under full load

Given this background, traditional white collar crime lawyers are reacting relatively calmly to the fact that more and more large firms are flocking into their territory. As, conversely, these boutiques are conquering ever more market share in compliance advice, a new equilibrium is setting in. The level of competition is especially apparent when it comes to the issue of young lawyers: the boutiques could gain even more ground in compliance if they could only find enough associates. But here it is the high-paying international firms that are scoring points. When criminal lawyers leave their firms it is either to start one of their own, like White & Case partner Jürgen Klengel, or to join the civil service, like a number of Redeker Sellner Dahs associates and an up-and-coming partner from HammPartner.

It is becoming increasingly clear how the generation change is altering the market for criminal defense lawyers, as some outfits dominated by younger partners, such as Ufer Knauer, Grub Brugger, Trüg Habetha, Dr. Frank Dr. Auffermann Halbritter Dr. Horrer and Strafverteidigerbüro, are landing work of an increasingly high caliber. When it comes to the defense of individuals, most of them cannot yet hold a candle to the old hands, but they are breaking through into the market with lower profile litigation or advice to companies. None of them have a senior figurehead. The issue of succession, in fact, is a shaky one at some outfits, as central instructions have been handled by senior partners for too long and younger partners are unable to carve out a stronger profile for themselves.

Tax criminal law – once a niche field for tax freaks – has to be an integral part of any criminal law firm today if the latter hopes to exist in the market. Young firm Rettenmaier & Adick was proof of this: through a specialization in tax law it quickly conquered a solid position in the criminal defense scene. Offices without tax criminal law expertise are losing visibility as they no longer have a seat at the table in the central defense cases.


The following chapter deals with firms which provide advice on white collar crime and/or tax criminal law. Please also see the chapters on ?dispute resolution, ?public law and ?tax law. The rankings distinguish between advice and litigation for companies as plaintiffs or parties affected under the Regulatory Offenses Act, and defense of individuals. Another ranking lists the market’s distinguished tax criminal lawyers. Multidisciplinary ?compliance advice is covered in a separate chapter. As a rule, client details tend to refer to advice in proceedings ongoing at the time of going to print and constitute allegations that have not yet been proven.

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