As commerce has become increasingly sophisticated, firms often conduct business under a constellation of legal regimes, bringing a single transaction under the legal purview of multiple governmental authorities varying by subject matter and geography. This makes parallel investigations – separate investigations being conducted by different state, federal or international government authorities into the same or a similar set of facts – more likely.
The most common iterations are competing state and federal investigations (for example, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ)), civil and criminal, or multinational. Parallel investigations can materialize in several ways, sometimes originating simultaneously from multiple jurisdictions (often spurred by major events covered in the media such as plane crashes or oil spills), but are more typically referred from one agency to another as investigators discover aspects of their investigation that might be better suited to a different regulator. In each scenario, there are unique demands placed on a firm.