Deferred Prosecution Agreements Come Into Force

In the Summer of 2013, Mike Hayward wrote on the subject of Deferred Prosecution Agreements which were, at the time, proceeding through Parliament.

Under a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), a prosecutor may charge a company with a criminal offence but order that proceedings are automatically suspended if the company agrees to a number of conditions. This may include paying a financial penalty or paying compensation and co-operating with future prosecution of individuals. They came into force on 24 February 2014.

If the company does not honour the conditions, the prosecution may resume.

DPAs can be used for fraud, bribery and other economic crimes, and apply to organisations, not individuals.

The Serious Fraud Office and the Director of Public Prosecutions will, if entering a DPA, consider whether it is more appropriate to enter into a DPA rather than to prosecute. They will consider the public interest in making this decision.

If your company is investigated and offered a DPA, then please contact our Business Defence team for instant advice.

Offences which are likely to attract consideration for a DPA include tax evasion, cheating the public revenue, conspiracy to defraud, Customs & Excise Management Act fraud, Companies Act Investigations, forgery and counterfeiting. However, this list is in no way exhaustive.

The Director of the Serious Fraud Office, David Green CB QC, commented on DPAs stating; "Deferred Prosecution Agreements are brought at present where a company is convicted of a criminal offence, a Court can impose a fine or put it out of business by winding it up. Those details can cause collateral damage to employees and shareholders who may be blameless. Deferred Prosecution Agreements avoid that collateral damage and provide a welcome addition to the prosecutor's tool kit to be used in appropriate circumstances."

The newly appointed Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, stated; "Deferred Prosecution Agreements provide prosecutors with additional powers in the fight against fraud and economic crimes. Whilst the circumstances appropriate to the use of Deferred Prosecution Agreements may be quite rare to the CPS, the guidelines published today set out our approach to this new legislative function in an open and transparent way."

Our Business Defence lawyers can advise you on the Code for Prosecution Agencies in considering DPAs and can advise in respect of any corporate related regulatory/criminal breach. For further advice, please get in touch on 01908 202150 or email mhayward@woodfines.co.uk

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