Last week, the Texas Supreme Court joined the majority of jurisdictions in holding that a company enjoys an absolute privilege when providing the Department of Justice (DOJ) with an internal investigation report containing statements later alleged by an employee to be defamatory. The decision in Shell Oil Co. v. Writt, __S.W.3d__ (Tex. 2015) should provide Texas companies comfort that cooperating with regulatory and law enforcement agencies will not expose them to liability for defamation.
The Writt case arose from an FCPA investigation of Panalpina, a contractor Shell employed to provide freighting and customs-clearing services for a deep-water drilling project off the coast of Nigeria. At DOJ’s request, Shell conducted an internal investigation and provided the DOJ with its confidential findings.