How Preventative Counsel Is Changing Criminal Defense

Ayala Gómez discusses Oliva-Ayala's 2019 "Law Firm of the Year" award for criminal defense law in Spain.

Oliva-Ayala Spanish Interview
Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers

March 6, 2019 11:15 AM

Ayala Gómez of Oliva-Ayala Abogados discusses his firm’s 2019 "Law Firm of the Year" award for criminal defense law in Spain with Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer. Together, they explore the ways in which technology and national policy are changing the practice.

What achievements are you most proud of from this past year that led to Oliva-Ayala Abogados being awarded "Law Firm of the Year" for Criminal Defense?

Without a doubt, my greatest pride is the consideration of the firm as a good team of professionals that has been able to maintain excellence when lending legal guidance and defense since its creation.

What inspired you to create a law firm specializing in criminal law? Did you feel like you were offering something that other firms don’t?

The Oliva-Ayala firm arose as a continuation of a professional firm founded in the seventies, dedicated to criminal law and from which all of its members were professors in the criminal law discipline. Therefore, the firm is the result of a vocation sustained in time and of the identification of the need to maintain a high specialization taking into account the important quantitative, but above all, qualitative, evolution of economic criminal defense that made the wager of an outstanding legal and technical level particularly important. Our law practice centers on the attention to the client and the preservation of tenacity in the courts. Sustaining this level through the years has been our wager.

Can you explain what preventative criminal defense policy is and it helps clients stay on top of changing regulations and legislation?

The increasingly complicated national and international regulatory framework and more frequent influence from criminal defense on the organization of corporate activity obligate legal experts to have a clear and defined image of the legal environment in which they expect to involve themselves. To that end, Oliva-Ayala Abogados develops its activity also in the environment of prevention, providing counsel on the criminal risks that a company or private citizen can incur, whether it be with concrete operations or in the more global scenario of its area of activity.

Particularly, our activity in the field of preventative counsel has been reinforced with the recent introduction of criminal liability for the legal experts in the Spanish Criminal Code in 2010. The development, implementation, and supervision of the compliance programs in important multinational companies have allowed us to delve into that endeavor, developing maps of criminal risks and designing preventative policies of compliance, supervision, and control in business.

Our greatest goal with that guidance is to offer our clients the highest grade possible of confidence and security in the tempestuous ocean of legal and criminal regulations.

Are there any legal implications in the criminal defense field in Spain from the recent GDPR passed in the EU last year?

The protection that the Criminal Code provides to the right to privacy is based on categories from outside criminal defense, like, for example, the concept of “information of personal character,” which is why the passing of specific laws under this subject always affects the framework of criminal defense. Thus, the recent Constitutional Law 3/2018, from the 5th of December, of the Protection of Personal Data and guarantee of digital rights, outlines a new environment of obligations for those who work with data of personal character, establishing a catalogue of principles for data security that are going to create a frame of reference for criminal statutes. One clear example of the implications that this has is seen in the specific treatment that we apply to the sectorial policy of data security in the Regulatory Compliance programs that we conduct or review for our clients.

[RELATED: Nomination deadlines for Russia and Ukraine are approaching.]

Have there been any additional policy changes locally or abroad that have impacted your practice?

The inclusion of Spain in the European Union, as well as other international organizations, produces a constant incorporation of new legislative and regulatory changes that directly or indirectly influence the legal and criminal environment and obligate firms to continually review their practice. Some examples include the regulation in the area of money laundering and finance of terrorism, the introduction of the legal experts’ liability, or the aforementioned legal modification in the subject of data security.

Our greatest goal with that guidance is to offer our clients the highest grade possible of confidence and security in the tempestuous ocean of legal and criminal regulations.

In what ways has technology affected criminal defense law?

Technology, as an essential part of social reality, always has conditioned the development and application of criminal defense. It is true that the current means of communication, characterized by their general use by the public, their immediacy, and their incessant evolution, as well as their capacity to address growing amounts of information, solicit a constant review of the facts of the matter provided by the Criminal Code. As an example of the circumstances most affected by current technology we could quote the proprietary crimes in which a criminal employs sophisticated technological media, as well as crimes against virtue, privacy, and one’s image, where public platforms of communication and the use of certain technology introduce constant debates about the limits of fundamental rights that are as relevant and deserving of criminal protection as are virtue and privacy.

From a procedural perspective, the changes made to the Law of Criminal Procedure in 2015 attempted to modify issues that had been left particularly obsolete in relation to the pursuit of the renewed criminal behavior linked to the use of new technology. A shortcoming that, although compensated with the jurisprudential doctrine, required, nonetheless, urgent legislative renovation. As a result, article 579 of the LCP was complimented with new wording that incorporates new types of technology.

How does Oliva-Ayala Abogados stay agile against competitors in your field?

The answer is simple: work often and strive for excellence. To do so, the dedication from the firm’s professionals and its implication are conducted with enthusiasm and without limits. In addition, the inclusion of some of its members in Academia and the study and research of the subjects belonging to our professional practice (criminal law), provide access to that excellence.

Accordingly, and as an example of our attitude and vocation, Oliva-Ayala Abogados, through its professionals, participates in and imparts highly specialized courses in Economic Criminal Law (in the Escuela de Práctica Jurídica de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid); which it does in seminars and forums of legal debate (Fide). Oliva-Ayala Abogoados—in conjunction with editor Frances Lefebvre—has published Memento de Derecho Penal Económico y de la Empresa, a referential publication for the academic and professional sectors.

Is there anything else you would like to share with me about your firm, either for this practice area or for other groups the firm is particularly proud of?

After more than 35 years of practicing law, my greatest satisfaction is having gathered the excellent team of professional individuals that Oliva-Ayala Abogados possesses. Sincerely, in a profession like ours, experience has taught me that human capital is essential.


Entrevista en español

Ayala Gómez de Oliva-Ayala Abogados conversa con el jefe ejecutivo de Best Lawyers Phillip Greer sobre el premio “Mejor Despacho del Año” que su bufete ganó este año para su práctica de derecho penal en España, y explora las maneras en que la tecnología y la política nacional están cambiando la práctica.

Entre los logros que condujeron a que el despacho Oliva-Ayala Abogados fuera nombrado como “Despacho del Año” bajo el derecho penal, ¿de cuáles está usted más orgulloso?

Sin duda, mi mayor orgullo es la consideración de la firma como un buen equipo de profesionales capaz de mantener la excelencia en la prestación de servicios de asesoramiento y defensa desde su creación.

¿Qué lo inspiró a crear un despacho que se especializa en el derecho penal? ¿Creía que estaba ofreciendo algo que no ofrecen otros despachos?

La firma Oliva-Ayala Abogados surge como continuación de un despacho profesional -fundado en los años setenta- dedicado al derecho penal y del que todos sus miembros eran profesores universitarios en dicha disciplina (el derecho penal). Por lo tanto, la firma es el resultado de una vocación sostenida en el tiempo y de la identificación de la necesidad de mantener una alta especialización teniendo en cuenta la importante evolución cuantitativa pero sobre todo cualitativa del derecho penal económico que hacía especialmente importante la apuesta por un nivel técnico-jurídico sobresaliente.

Nuestra práctica de la abogacía se centra en la atención al cliente y el mantenimiento del rigor ante los tribunales. Sostener este nivel a lo largo de los años ha sido nuestra apuesta.

¿Puede contarnos de uno o dos de sus casos transcendentales? ¿Cuáles fueron los resultados o algunos momentos notables en estos casos?

La firma ha intervenido en muchos asuntos de relevancia social y jurídica, como atestigua su gran relevancia mediática. Sin embargo, dada la naturaleza de nuestra práctica y el respeto debido a la intimidad de nuestros clientes, es nuestra política no referirnos a casos concretos. Sería en cualquier caso difícil identificar uno o dos, pues para nosotros cualquier asunto en el que intervenimos es importante.

¿Hay otros abogados en su despacho que hayan contribuido al éxito del mismo en estos casos?

En realidad, todos. El éxito del despacho solo puede entenderse gracias al concurso y contribución de todos sus profesionales. Este concepto de equipo es el que nos otorga el reconocimiento de nuestros compañeros y clientes.

¿Puede explicar de qué consta la política del derecho penal preventivo y cómo ayuda a los clientes a navegar los frecuentes cambios a los reglamentos y legislación?

El cada vez más complejo marco regulatorio nacional e internacional y la mayor incidencia del derecho penal en la ordenación de la actividad empresarial obliga a personas jurídicas y particulares a disponer de una imagen clara y definida del entorno legal en que han de desenvolverse. A tal fin, Oliva-Ayala Abogados desarrolla su actividad también en el ámbito preventivo, proporcionando asesoramiento sobre los riesgos penales en que puede incurrir una empresa o un particular, ya sea con operaciones concretas, ya en el escenario más global de su sector de actividad.

En particular, nuestra actividad en el campo del asesoramiento preventivo se ha visto acentuada con la reciente introducción en el Código Penal español de la responsabilidad penal de las personas jurídicas, acontecida en el año 2010. El desarrollo, implementación y seguimiento de los programas de cumplimiento de importantes multinacionales nos ha permitido profundizar en esa labor, desarrollando mapas de riesgos penales y diseñando políticas preventivas de cumplimiento, supervisión y control en la empresa.

Nuestra mayor aspiración con ese asesoramiento es ofrecer a nuestros clientes el máximo grado posible de confianza y seguridad en el proceloso océano de la normativa jurídico- penal.

¿Hay algunas implicaciones jurídicas que hayan surgido en el campo del derecho penal en España tras la aprobación del “Registro General de Protección de Datos” en la Unión Europea el año pasado?

La protección que el Código Penal proporciona al derecho a la intimidad, se fundamenta en categorías extrapenales como, por ejemplo, el propio concepto de “dato de carácter personal”, por lo que la aprobación de leyes específicas en la materia siempre afectan al marco penal. Así, la reciente Ley Orgánica 3/2018, de 5 de diciembre, de Protección de Datos Personales y garantía de los derechos digitales, delimita un nuevo ámbito de obligaciones para quienes traten los datos de carácter personal, estableciendo un catálogo de principios de protección de datos que van a establecer un marco de referencia para el ordenamiento penal. Un ejemplo claro de las implicaciones que esto tiene se aprecia en el tratamiento específico que otorgamos a la política sectorial de protección de datos en los programas de Cumplimiento Normativo que realizamos o revisamos para nuestros clientes.

¿Ha resultado algún otro cambio de política en el país o en el extranjero que haya impactado al derecho penal?

La pertenencia de España a la Unión Europea, así como a otros organismos internacionales, supone una constante incorporación de novedades legislativas y regulatorias que inciden directa o indirectamente en el ámbito jurídico-penal y obligan a los despachos de Abogados a una permanente actualización. Sirvan de ejemplo la regulación en el ámbito de blanqueo de capitales y financiación del terrorismo, la introducción de la responsabilidad de las personas jurídicas, o la ya mencionada modificación legal en materia de protección de datos.

¿De qué manera ha afectado la tecnología al derecho penal?

La tecnología, como parte esencial de la realidad social, siempre ha condicionado el desarrollo y la aplicación del derecho penal. Bien es cierto que los actuales medios de comunicación, que se caracterizan por su uso generalizado por la población, su inmediatez e incesante evolución, así como su capacidad de tratar cantidades crecientes de datos, invitan a una revisión constante de los supuestos de hecho previstos por el Código Penal. Como ejemplo de los supuestos más afectados por las tecnologías actuales podríamos citar los delitos patrimoniales donde el delincuente emplea sofisticados medios tecnológicos, así como delitos contra el honor, la intimidad y la propia imagen, donde las plataformas de comunicación públicas y el uso de determinadas tecnologías están planteando constantes debates sobre los límites entre derechos fundamentales tan relevantes y merecedores de la protección penal como son el honor y la intimidad.

Desde una perspectiva procesal, la reforma de la Ley de Enjuiciamiento Criminal operada en 2015 trató de modificar cuestiones que habían quedado especialmente obsoletas en relación con la persecución de las renovadas formas de delincuencia ligadas al uso de las nuevas tecnologías. Déficit que, si bien se suplían hasta ese momento con la doctrina jurisprudencial, exigía sin embargo una renovación legislativa inaplazable. Por ello, el artículo 579 de la LECrim se complementó con una nueva redacción que se adecua a las nuevas tecnologías.

¿Qué hace Oliva-Ayala Abogados para mantenerse fuerte contra la competencia de otros despachos que se dedican al derecho penal?

La respuesta es sencilla: trabajar mucho y buscar la excelencia. Para ello, la dedicación de los profesionales de la firma y su implicación se realiza con entusiasmo y sin límites. Además, la pertenencia de alguno de sus miembros a la Universidad y el estudio e investigación en materias propias de nuestro ejercicio profesional (el Derecho penal), proporcionan el acceso a esa excelencia.

Así, y muestra de nuestra actitud y vocación, Oliva-Ayala Abogados, a través de sus profesionales, participa e imparte cursos de alta especialización en materia de Derecho Penal Económico (en la Escuela de Práctica Jurídica de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid); lo hace en seminarios y foros de debate jurídico (Fide). Oliva-Ayala Abogados -en concurso con el editor Francis Lefebvre- ha publicado el “Memento de Derecho Penal Económico y de la Empresa”, una publicación de referencia en el sector académico y profesional.

¿Hay algo más que quisiera compartir con nosotros sobre su despacho – sea con respecto a esta área de práctica o sea con respecto a otros grupos de los cuales el despacho está particularmente orgulloso?

Tras más de 35 años de ejercicio de la abogacía, mi mayor satisfacción es haber conseguido reunir el excelente equipo humano y profesional que Oliva Ayala Abogados posee. Sinceramente, en una profesión como la nuestra, la experiencia me ha enseñado que el capital humano es lo esencial.

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