Double Trouble: James Murdoch Could Face Legal Battle on Both Sides of the Atlantic

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CEO of News Corporation, James Murdoch attends the Cannes Debate Seminar on June 24, 2011 in Cannes, France.

In the wake of the News of the World hacking scandal, both the U.S. and the U.K. may prepare charges against the News Corp. heir apparent.

He admitted he misled Britain’s parliament about the extent of the phone hacking. He confessed to bribing police officers and hackers for information. And with these revelations, the former News Corp. dark horse, its deputy chief operating officer, has entered the spotlight – with no hope of it dimming anytime soon.

James Murdoch could face legal battles on both sides of the pond, given the corporation’s multinational arms. It was James’ call to shutter the 168-year-old salacious News of the World tabloid in the wake of an investigation that uncovered the paper hacked the voicemail of a murdered 13-year-old girl, among thousands of others, police allege.

(LIST: Six Salacious News of the World Scandals)

And now lawyers in both the U.S. and the U.K. are preparing their cases against James Murdoch and News Corp. The phone hacking allegations are prosecutable under the U.K.’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which forbids the interception of communications. The act allows legal action against both a corporation and its director if the action was taken with “consent or connivance,” British lawyer Tony Woodcock told The Guardian.

And as for the bribery charges, the U.S. is looking at charging the company under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 piece of legislation that outlaws bribery. As News Corp. is headquartered in the U.S., they would be subjected to some American laws as well.

James is a heavy favorite to one day succeed his father as News Corp.’s chief executive. But how far will James – and the company – fall if legal charges are brought forth?

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

(MORE: Fallout of NOTW Scandal Reaches 10 Downing Street)

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