Three member firms of the Crisis & Litigation Communicator’s Alliance give their top 3 predictions of where they see workflow arising in 2018. Here is what they have to say.
Richard Levick, Chairman and CEO of LEVICK our US member firm:
1. Cyber will move into 3.0, where full disclosure is expected and there will be real loss of life, safety and health, not just information. Companies will be more on the defensive than they have been in the past. The question media will ask is, “What was your prophylaxis?” Companies better have a good answer.
2. Continuation of #MeToo targeted reputation challenges against high profile individuals (in the arts, politics, finance, etc) with Wall Street, law firms, and other industries not escaping the heat either. The obvious media question for companies is going to be: “What did you know and when did you know it?” with the potential for reputations to turn toxic if culture is called into question. It will also be important to navigate a path of fairness to the accused as well as alleged victims and other potential victims. HR will be under tremendous pressure to operate with due process.
3. Litigation funding is on the march. Not just in the US but globally. Disputes from fraud cases to divorce cases are now being financed by third-party funds and companies are increasingly striking deals with funders to take litigation risk off-balance sheet. This in turn means funders will have a skin in the PR dimension of cases. Watch this space….
Louise Beeson, consultant at Bell Yard Communications in the UK:
1. Expect more gender equality lawsuits (recruitment, pay and discrimination challenges). Companies in the UK with over 250 staff are now obliged by law to publish gender pay gap information which is proving incendiary at organisations like the BBC, in financial services firms and at certain global law firms. We are likely to see class action cases as well as employment claims from high profile senior managers.
2. There have already been legal challenges against the UK Government about their conduct of the Brexit process. 2018 will be the year Brexit spawns commercial and employment disputes – for example, employment claims from EU employees based in the UK who find themselves subject to discrimination, disputes over business contracts being lost due to Brexit or challenges to insurance policies being changed to take account of Brexit. This one will run and run for years to come, of course, as the detail and practical reality of Brexit begins to bite.
3. With the advent of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, new types of legal case will surely follow. Query will we see tighter regulation of cryptocurrency operators in 2018 with enforcement actions too and will there be a rush of claims from those who experience wrongdoing in cryptocurrency transactions – from fraudulent misrepresentation to fintech fails. This is clearly not just a UK trend. Given cryptocurrencies and their investors rely on various different underlying legal systems, the potential for multi-faceted cross-border disputes is high.
Uwe Wolff, CEO of NAÏMA Strategic Legal Services in Germany says:
1. I predict growing interest in our reputation-management service for the aftermath of a legal crisis. Executives involved in litigation don’t want their name forever tied to allegations or disappointing court judgments, which have reputation longevity thanks to the internet. Given not all online media reports will qualify for the right-to-be-forgotten, there are PR programmes and activities that can help to reposition personal reputation. Insurance companies are becoming increasingly receptive to covering these PR related services.
2. An increasing number of companies are finding themselves victim to deliberate and damaging fake-news media attacks. These may be orchestrated by protest groups, subversive competitors and eccentric hackers through to those with an interest in benefitting financially from such an attack. Companies need the right IT experts and the right communications partners to fight off these attacks and restore reputations.
3. Companies need compliance systems now for monitoring everything from employee behaviour to anti-bribery policies. And ironically these raise the bar for reputation fall-out if there is a compliance violation. The Supreme Court in Germany recently ruled that companies will face a less harsh sentence if their compliance system failed. With every failure comes a communications crisis ….