Due diligence questionnaire

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Due diligence questionnaire /djuː ˈdɪlɪʤəns ˌkwɛstɪəˈneə/ (n.)
The 120-page long form by which one satisfies one’s compliance department that one has paid attention to the organisation and competence of one’s financial service providers. This is a final victory for form in its epochal battle with substance in the mind of the modern multinational organisation.

Persons charged with requiring, or responding to, due diligence questionnaires like to shunt any difficult or stupid questions they find in the questionnaire — and there are bound to be thousands: things like “summarise all legislation, regulation and statutory instruments in any jurisdiction, past or present or future, to which you have been, are, might be or potentially could be subject”, or “is global warming real?” — to the legal department. This is almost never justified or appropriate.

The JC’s practical guide for legal eagles on how to respond to requests to help fill out due diligence questionnaires:

Choose any ONE (1) of the following answers:


“That is a matter of legal interpretation and not an appropriate subject for a due diligence questionnaire. If the client wants to know this, they should ask their lawyers.”


“That is a matter of fact. I am a lawyer. I have trained for many years precisely to avoid questions like this. I neither know nor care about “facts”. I exist on a higher jurisprudential plane. Go and ask someone in operations.”

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