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Sarah Wallace



Sarah defends financial crime, fraud and regulatory investigations, with particular experience of defending large and complex criminal or regulatory investigations or prosecutions by bodies such as:

  • Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC and RCPO)
  • Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS)
  • Crown (or Fraud) Prosecution Service (CPS or FPS)
  • Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)
  • Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA)

In relation to FCA Enforcement investigations, she advises individuals and firms at risk of or under FCA Enforcement investigations, whether criminal, civil or regulatory investigations, for alleged misconduct, rule breaches or criminal offences (eg insider dealing, misleading statements, market abuse or 'boiler rooms'). Sarah was seconded to the FCA's Enforcement Division in 04/05 and represented a senior executive in the first-ever acquittal in an FCA prosecution for insider dealing.

Her practice includes defending restraint, confiscation, asset recovery and other proceeds of crime proceedings, company director disqualification and professional discipline matters (in particular FCA and SRA fitness to practice). Sarah also advises on 'general crime' and motoring matters.

Market View

"Clever and highly committed," with "good client care skills," Sarah "is an experienced practitioner with a strong record of advising on matters at the intersection of financial crime and regulatory proceedings." – Chambers & Partners, 2018

"Generous with her time, brave and tactically very shrewd."  "She gets to the essence of what matters early on and, importantly, she can see what advice that a client should get early on - which are the cases to negotiate and which are the ones to fight hard." - Chambers & Partners, 2017

Sarah is "tactically excellent" and "a lawyer you definitely want on your side." She is a "streetwise financial services lawyer and is very alive to the interplay of civil and criminal aspects of an investigation or dispute". She is "adept at tailoring her services and approach to the different requirements of different cases." -Legal 500, 2017

Sarah Wallace is "one of the best and hardest-working litigators around" - ​Legal 500, 2016

The "commercially savvy" Sarah Wallace is described as "extremely diligent and hard-working". Sources go on to praise her depth of experience dealing with regulators such as the FSA and FCA. - Chambers & Partners, 2016

The "pragmatic" Sarah Wallace "fights tooth and nail for her clients". She is also noted for being "very hardworking" and "increasingly very active in the financial services field" - Legal 500, 2015

"One of the most dogged solicitors I know. She's someone who will never leave a stone unturned - she has a remarkable attention to detail." - Chambers & Partners, 2015

Sarah Wallace displays "excellent judgement" and has earned the reputation as a "fearsome opponent". She is "tenacious in pursuing the interests of her clients whilst giving realistic advice." - Legal 500, 2014

Described as a "tenacious" and "diligent" lawyer, who is "committed to her cases" and provides "very good client care." - Chambers & Partners, 2014

Sarah Wallace produces work of the "highest quality" - Legal 500, 2012

What Inspired You To Get Into Law?

Interesting work, no day is the same, meeting different and interesting people from varied backgrounds, finding practical and cost effective solutions for clients who may be facing difficult or challenging times in their personal or work life.

What Is The Most Rewarding Aspect Of Your Role?

Working out different angles to represent and defend our clients' best interests. Being involved in what can be cutting edge litigation that makes new law. Most importantly though, clients being happy and satisfied with the outcome of our work.

What Do You Like About Working At Irwin Mitchell?

IM is a friendly, modern, entrepreneurial and forward thinking law firm with like minded motivated people who work hard and passionately for our clients.

What Do You Do Away From The Office?

In the winter I like skiing and ski touring, and in the summer mountain walking and a bit of climbing.

Read My Comments On The Latest News

  • 06/12/2018
    Collapse Of The Tesco Fraud Trial Today

    “Lisa Osofsky, Director of the SFO paints a positive future for the SFO, wanting to take on the ‘big guys’ but the reality is when a high profile case takes a dramatic nose dive it will be a blow. It exposes the difficulties in trying to prosecute household names and their senior executives. Although this case produced an outcome for the SFO in that Tesco entered into a DPA, there will be questions asked whether they, as both an investigator and prosecutor, have sufficient financial and human resources to investigate highly complex cases to the level required. They need to apply more rigor and scrutiny in gathering and assessing evidence, and more realism as to which people, if any, should be in the dock. Her team are still investigating a number of high profile historic cases so they will need to ensure that those are not evidentially flawed otherwise there is risk there will be renewed calls for the SFO to be dismantled. “It is possible that the SFO’s focus could move to prosecuting smaller SMEs and their executives as they will be perceived as easier targets, although I don’t think at the moment the number of larger corporates wanting to self-report potential criminal liability and agree DPAs will dwindle just on this outcome. Whilst it is a big thing for a corporate to accept potential criminal liability, generally a corporate will not strategize in the same way an individual will. By agreeing a DPA, a company can draw a line under historical events more quickly, and manage their litigation risk, reputation risk and share price. This stance can be an effective commercial outcome when there is a huge financial, reputational and human resourcing cost in defending a criminal prosecution where acquittal is not guaranteed. "However, if more cases against high profile corporates and CEOs collapse, the SFO will have to rethink their strategy as the big boys and their lawyers may be emboldened and deterred from conceding criminal liability if the prospect of actual criminal conviction is uncertain. That may be why Ms Osofsky is keen for Parliament to extend the failure to prevent corporate offence to other financial crime such as fraud or false accounting and import the US concept of corporate vicarious criminal liability for the actions of its staff as it will be make her job of getting large corporates accountable easier.”

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  • 01/05/2018
    BBC Journalist Discusses Fertility Journey With Irwin Mitchell Staff

    The inspiration for the project came from recognition that the conventional nuclear family and a traditional workplace is not what everyone relates to. Whether you have children or not, Modern Families is about coping with the stresses that everyday life presents. We hope to remind colleagues that we’re all human - as opposed to the ideals presented to us in the press and on social media. Irwin Mitchell has many people policies in place to help colleagues who are undergoing fertility treatments, adoption and other related issues. There is also emotional support available from line managers, HR and our Employee Assistance Line. We hope events like this will help ensure colleagues can better access the help they need and will ultimately have a positive impact on their well-being.

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  • 23/03/2018
    Irwin Mitchell Scoops Regulatory Law Firm of the Year

    "We’re absolutely delighted to be part of this phenomenal achievement for Irwin Mitchell. I'm consistently proud of the fantastic work that everyone involved in regulatory work here – of whichever gender - produces all year round, which is wonderful to be recognised for. "But in addition to that, to be recognised specifically in the Women in Compliance Awards is a wonderful indication of the inclusive environment we create for every one of our people to thrive."

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  • 20/02/2017
    Financial Conduct Authority And Prudential Regulation Authority Publish Decision Making Changes

    “It’s important for the FCA to operate as smoothly as possible and for those under investigation not to feel the process is oppressive or unduly lengthy. The settlement change is likely to trigger more FCA investigation cases being contested at the RDC stage rather than settling, which is no bad thing. "Individuals and companies may have felt under pressure to settle earlier in the process although now they may feel more confident to contest aspects of a case with the ability to still retain the potential for a discount on a financial penalty. "Most individuals or officers of firms under investigation, feel a degree of stress when dealing with FCA Enforcement so any steps that improve the process are to be welcomed."

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