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The ISO standard for internal investigations is out. Here’s what to know

On July 28, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) issued ISO TS 37008, its standard on internal investigations. After almost two years of work involving the participation of experts from different countries, the standard is now in effect.

As a global standard, ISO TS 37008 reflects international best practices on internal investigations. It was designed to be used by any organization, large or small, in any country, as its guidelines adapt to the organization’s size, segment, organizational structure, governing body, and nature of the issues under investigation.

Organizations from all over the world are now able to take advantage of the objective criteria established by ISO TS 37008 to conduct their internal investigations and create or enhance related policies and procedures. Here are some of the main aspects of ISO TS 37008:

It is based on principles that rule a successful internal investigation, which must be observed in all phases and by all those involved in the investigation. According to such principles, internal investigations must be conducted independently and in an objective and impartial manner. Further, the activities must be carried out by competent and professional investigators, with attention to confidentiality and in accordance with the applicable laws.

ISO TS 37008 covers key steps of internal investigations, including:

  1. The appointment of the investigation team and of the reporting line, in addition to their roles in the internal investigations
  2. Aspects of planning and scoping the investigation, considering the multiple features of the allegations and available information, as well as proceedings to be followed to prepare the investigation activities
  3. Safety and protection measures to be taken regarding the investigation team, witnesses and investigated personnel
  4. Collection and preservation of evidence, including document review and interviews
  5. Interactions with internal and external stakeholders, including the main aspects of cooperation with regulators and other authorities, which contemplate self-disclosure situations, and
  6. The proceedings to close the investigation, contemplating investigation reporting, remedial measures, and disciplinary actions.

Another topic addressed by ISO TS 37008 is the support required from an organization’s administration and leadership for internal investigations. The ISO standard also provides guidelines to face the challenges of keeping the administration informed and guaranteeing an independent and objective internal investigation, as well as covering other aspects of internal investigations, such as confidentiality, anti-retaliation measures, and elements of a robust investigation policy or procedure.

Besides its impact on the implementation of successful and independent internal investigations, ISO TS 37008 provides a great opportunity to discuss relevant matters for investigators all over the world.


Carlos Ayres, pictured above left,  is a founder of the São Paulo-based law firm Maeda, Ayres & Sarubbi. He is a professor at FGVLaw in São Paulo, where he teaches in the post-graduation courses on Compliance, White-Collar Crime and ESG. He served as Brazil’s head of delegation for the discussions of ISO TS 37008.

Joyce Serra, above right, is a senior associate at the São Paulo-based law firm Maeda, Ayres & Sarubbi. She is a professor at FGVlaw in São Paulo, where she teaches in the post-graduation courses on Compliance, and White-Collar Crime. She was part of the team created at Brazilian Association of Technical Standards – ABNT to discuss ISO TS 37008.

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