News & Insights


February 10, 2021

General Counsel Internal Investigations Decision Tree for the Automotive Industry

Vehicle manufacturers, equipment suppliers, technology developers and others in the automotive space regularly encounter situations for which an internal investigation may be required to determine how the organization should respond. These range from industry-specific concerns, such as those related to potential noncompliance with regulatory requirements at the state and federal level to more general concerns, including Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance, data breaches, whistleblower complaints, risks introduced by the use of third parties and human resources issues. While having a robust compliance program can help avoid many issues, not all issues can be foreseen or avoided. This internal investigations playbook has been designed to facilitate the identification and remediation of issues and is an important complement to a welldesigned and functioning compliance program. It also will facilitate the in-house team’s communications with outside counsel, who have a range of experience guiding companies through these precarious situations. In addition, adherence to a well-crafted playbook helps companies meet the expectations of enforcement authorities, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and its sub-agencies, namely the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as well as other organizations with an interest such as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and state attorneys general (as well as others), which can materially mitigate potential enforcement efforts and sanctions. As new technology emerges, and as consumer issues loom large, the broader automotive industry also finds itself dealing with a new set of regulators, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).