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Interview with our Spanish Partner César Zarate, ECIJA

EU Whistleblowing Directive: An interview with our Spanish Partner César Zarate, Ecija.

In our interview with César Zarate, Partner at ECIJA, we learn more about the impact of the EU Whistleblowing Directive on whistleblower protection. We also talk about Spain’s existing Criminal Code, that already requires companies to have a crime prevention system. Our Partner tells us how implementing a whistleblowing channel can help organisations, and the main limitations for Spanish companies when it comes to implementing these systems and managing cases.

Tell us a about your firm / organisation

ECIJA is positioned as the 4th largest Spanish law firm, consolidating itself as the Ibero-American law firm with the strongest presence in Latin America. This reinforces our full-service offering through alliances with leading firms in their respective areas of practice. We have a team of over 800 professionals at 30 office locations in 16 countries. We are the undisputed authority on Digital Economy in Spain, and leaders in various areas of legal practice in Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

The newspaper Cinco Días (Grupo PRISA) and the consulting firm Statista recently published their 2022 ranking of the best law firms in Spain. ECIJA has been recognised as the best New Technologies law firm in Spain. Thanks to our commitment to innovation, excellence and sustainability, the Financial Times has also recognised ECIJA as one of the most innovative firms in Europe.

What impact do you and Ecija expect the EU Whistleblowing Directive, and its adoption into national law, to have on organisations in Spain?

For the time being, the Directive has not had a significant impact on our country, but this is nothing new. Until we have a national regulation and the corresponding sanctioning regime, only companies with mature Compliance systems will adapt their whistleblowing channels to Community requirements.

What are the most common reasons for your clients wishing to implement a whistleblowing system? 

To date, the most common reason has been the implementation of a management system for the prevention of crimes in accordance with the requirements of Article 31 bis of our Criminal Code.

The transposition of the Fourth Directive on Money Laundering has also motivated the implementation of channels by the obligated subjects. At that time, RD 18/2019 introduced a new Article 26 bis in Law 10/2010 that included the obligation of certain organisations to establish internal procedures that allow their employees, managers or agents to report possible breaches, and must allow anonymity. 

What concerns do your clients have about implementing a reporting channel and how do you lessen these concerns?

 In most cases, our clients are concerned that they do not have sufficient means for the correct handling of complaints. It is very rare for companies in Spain to have professionals specialised in the investigation of complaints who can ensure that the process is carried out while respecting the guarantees of all individuals involved.

The service our clients demand the most, is the external management of the channels and handling of complaints, in a compliant and timely way.

We have been analysing complaints channel solutions for many years and Whistlelink’s look and feel caught our attention from the beginning. The system has a very clean and well-crafted aesthetic look which, from my point of view, helps to generate greater trust for the whistleblower.

Another strength is the usability for the manager and the ability to easily adapt the platform to the demands of our clients.

Of course, having the ISO 27001 certification and rigorously complying with the regulations on privacy and data protection was essential for us.

For more information about ECIJA, visit the ECIJA website

You can learn more about Whistlelink’s whistleblowing system here, or contact us if you’re interested in becoming a partner.

If you have any thoughts about this article or would like to know more about Whistlelink, we’d love to hear from you.

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