Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) became available for use on 24 February 2014. Ten days earlier, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) published the Code of Practice for the UK’s DPA system (the “Code” ). Together with the Guideline for Sentencing corporate offenders, published in January 2014 , and changes to the criminal procedure rules, the framework for DPAs is now complete.
For commercial organisations DPAs herald a new era, bringing with them the prospect of managing outcomes in the face of legislative creep, which increasingly seeks to criminalise business related behaviour. Particularly in Bribery Act cases, where “adequate procedures” should provide a complete defence to corporate liability, the introduction of DPAs may provide a cushion in those cases where those adequate procedures prove to be inadequate in practice.
In this article Tony Lewis and Hannah Piper of Field Fisher Waterhouse examine some of the issues that commercial organisations will need to consider when deciding whether to pursue a DPA.