Enforcement Support & Legal Advocacy

The Enforcement Support & Legal Advocacy arm of Steptoe’s Environment & Life Sciences practice effectively assists its clients and defends their interests:

  • In enforcement investigations concerning regulatory compliance in the environment, chemicals, and life sciences sectors
  • In enforcement-related civil and criminal litigation
  • Through legal advocacy concerning relevant regulatory proposals

Clients in this area include multinational companies and industry associations in the food, food contact and packaging, chemicals, electronics, cosmetics, and mining sectors.

Enforcement Investigations
Steptoe works with clients to minimize enforcement exposure by: 

  • Conducting pre-inspection audits (“mock” inspections) in order to  identify and remedy gaps in corporate compliance strategies
  • Developing compliance manuals and SOP’s, and conducting staff training concerning likely enforcement scenarios, appropriate procedures during inspection, and responsibilities of supply chain actors
  • Providing on-site support during inspection (scope of inspector’s authority and confidentiality issues)
  • Advising on local “on the ground” enforcement practices

Enforcement Defense
By combining significant litigation experience with thorough knowledge of the substantive law, Steptoe lawyers (including former government prosecutors) effectively defend corporate and individual clients against civil and criminal enforcement actions. We aggressively pursue strategies agreed upon with our clients and exploit opportunities for creative and cost-effective settlement.

Our US experience in civil litigation includes:

  • Self-reporting violations for penalty mitigation or avoidance
  • Administrative and judicial challenges to penalty assessments
  • Analyses of economic benefit and ability to pay defenses
  • Defense of dozens of enforcement actions involving pesticides, hazardous waste, and alleged unlawful discharges at federal and state levels

In Europe, most enforcement in this area is decentralized and our practice involves working with EU member state authorities responsible for enforcement of chemical regulatory and environmental laws.  We also look to EU law to establish the permissible scope of member state enforcement activity.