Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and a team from Kingsley Napley are advising on the criminal law aspects of Tesco’s investigation by the SFO.

The Lawyer revealed in August Tesco had instructed Freshfields to defend a number of shareholder claims set to hit the High Court next year.

Now it has emerged the magic circle firm has brought a team led by Kingsley Napley partner Stephen Parkinson on board for its client.

Kingsley Napley head of criminal and regulatory litigation Parkinson is reputed for his work advising clients facing fraud investigations and other high-profile clients. These include advising former prime minister Tony Blair during the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly and former UBS chief executive Marcel Rohner during a Parliamentary commission into banking standards.

The retailer is facing a number of group claims led by firms including Stewarts Law and Scott & Scott amidst a criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into accounting errors that saw Tesco overstate its profits by £263m.

None of the claims have yet been filed at the High Court as firms await an update on the SFO investigation and the outcome of rumours that Tesco is in talks to reach a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the fraud office.

In April Stewarts Law extended its deadline for applications from shareholders to join the action after attracting more than £100m of further claims. The case is being led by partner Sean Upson and funded by Bentham Europe.

Scott & Scott partnered with McGuire Woods to take on Tesco in the UK representing Tesco Shareholder Claims Ltd (TSC), led by partner Hardeep Nahal.

An upswing in corporate crime and fraud cases related to both businesses and individuals in the UK courts has increased the need for criminal law experts at full-service commercial firms.

Taylor Wessing announced it was launching a corporate crime and fraud unit in July, hiring Peters & Peters business crime partner David McCluskey as head of crime in September.

Baker & McKenzie hired major banking investigations lawyers Jonathan Peddie from Barclays and David Brimacombe from Standard Chartered in July for its global investigations and financial crime practice.

Slaughter and May was recently brought on board by Rolls-Royce to advise on its SFO probe into allegations of bribery and corruption alongside Debevoise & Plimpton, which has been advising the aerospace company since the investigation launched in 2012.

Like Tesco, Rolls-Royce is also understood to be among a small number of British companies in talks with the SFO to reach a DPA in coming months.

Barclays has also been asked to consider a DPA with the fraud office following the SFO’s probe into the bank’s fundraising from Qatari investors during the financial crisis. Clifford Chance is understood to be advising the bank on the investigation.

Freshfields declined to comment.