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Germany: 5 key factors why an external ombudsman makes sense

07 July 2022


The ombudsman is an important part of your whistleblower system - but does not necessarily have to be part of your company. In particular, the use of a lawyer as an external ombudsman offers companies considerable advantages in terms of relief and at the same time high professional processing quality of incoming reports.

We have summarized the 5 biggest advantages for you:

1. Increasing trust in whistleblowers

All incoming information, regardless of its truthfulness, is likely to damage the reputation of those affected, the whistleblower and/or third parties and the company to the greatest possible extent. Ensuring particularly confidential treatment is therefore absolutely necessary for an effective reporting system.

If an external ombudsman is used, the inhibition threshold of a whistleblower's willingness to report is significantly reduced due to the independent organization and the structure separate from the company. In particular, a lawyer acting as an external ombudsman represents a certain degree of independence for the reporting party. This includes both the independence in evaluating the report and the recognition of the whistleblower's interest in protection.

The protection of the whistleblower is explicitly regulated by the EU Whistleblowing Directive: According to this, measures against the whistleblower (eg of a labor law nature) are prohibited. Good faith whistleblowers are therefore not sanctioned, even if a suspicion should later turn out to be unfounded. However, this does not apply if the whistleblower deliberately reported false or misleading information. The lawyer can explain this accordingly. A personal conversation on the phone in particular enables the whistleblower to clearly present his point of view and to clarify open points and questions directly with the ombudsperson.A hotline offers direct and personal contact with the ombudsperson, and email communication provides confidential separation from the office IT.

A major advantage of our position as external lawyers is the additional protection of the anonymity of the whistleblower through our legal confidentiality and right to refuse to give evidence.

2. Guarantee of anonymity & data protection

The establishment of anonymous reporting channels creates more trust and must be guaranteed accordingly in the company.

Only if the whistleblower agrees can his data be transmitted to authorities (eg police or public prosecutor's office) if necessary. In addition, the whistleblower's data will be treated confidentially and protected in accordance with the relevant European and national data protection regulations, in particular the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the German Federal Data Protection Act.

We record in writing which persons may access the information and the associated data and what rights they have in the context of data processing. They are committed to particular confidentiality.

3. Reduction of organizational effort

The Whistleblowing Directive and the national implementation in the Whistleblowing Act make corresponding requirements for the reporting process and describe the function of reporting offices, reporting channels and the procedure for specific reporting from submission to receipt, case processing and follow-up measures such as internal investigations , sanctions, optimization measures.

As early as the implementation of the reporting channel, a company-specific assessment must be made as to whether a whistleblowing hotline, oral or written reporting options should be set up, or whether an IT-supported platform makes sense in this case. Once the selection has been made, the specific design must also be secured, ie the security of the submission and the evaluation process must be guaranteed.

This includes, among other things, that the whistleblower receives confirmation of receipt of the tip within seven days of the report and that the whistleblower receives feedback on the processing status and the measures taken within a maximum of three months.

The obligation to implement this process does not only apply to large corporations, but also affects smaller companies and can generate a considerable amount of additional time. Thanks to our established structures and many years of experience as an ombudsman, we can provide competent support with the implementation.

4. Legal assessment of the report

Once the reporting system has been set up, the actual day-to-day work begins, the evaluation of the incoming reports: After the report has been received, it must first be checked by the ombudsman with regard to rule violations. If necessary, suitable measures are already taken after the report to uncover, stop and, if necessary, punish the violations of the rules. This means that not all reports have to be punished or prosecuted. The further internal steps are then accompanied by a lawyer.

This requires time and know-how. Thanks to our legal expertise, we can effectively assess whether there is a criminally relevant suspicion (qualified initial suspicion, assessment of credibility and credibility).

Another advantage: Due to our legal confidentiality and right to refuse to give evidence, we can receive and evaluate the information confidentially.

5. There's SFRP

We are not just "a reporting channel", we have been a personal ombudsman in whistleblowing systems with several confidential reporting channels since 2011 - protected by our legal work.

Based on our experience, we support you competently and experienced in building a corporate culture that demands and encourages disclosure.

We secure your whistleblower system, ensure compliance and relieve your infrastructure.


For further information, please contact:

Wolfgang Schmid / Diane Frank, Partners



t: +49 (0)1728 30 33 54 / +49 (0)1578 90 333 60


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