The Government has confirmed that it will legislate to allow companies to enter into deferred prosecution agreements. The Ministry of Justice press release is here and the Government’s document responding to its earlier consultation is here. From the press release:
“A new measure announced today will help prosecutors combat corporate offending including fraud, money laundering and bribery – which cost the UK billions of pounds each year.
The measure – a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) – can be made between a prosecutor and an organisation to defer prosecution for alleged economic wrongdoing as long as stringent conditions are met.
If they agree to enter into a DPA, organisations will publically face up to their wrongdoing and may be required to:
• Make amends to victims
• Pay substantial financial penalties
• Reform their practices to prevent such conduct occurring again
Justice Minister Damian Green said:
‘Economic crime is a serious issue. Fraud alone is estimated to cost the UK £73 billion each year, yet far too few serious cases are brought to justice.
‘Deferred Prosecution Agreements will give prosecutors an effective new tool to tackle what has become an increasingly complex issue.
‘This will ensure that more unacceptable corporate behaviour is dealt with including through substantial penalties, proper reparation to victims, and measures to prevent future wrongdoing.’
DPA agreements are overseen by an independent judge, agreed in open court and the outcome is published to ensure transparency. If, at the end of the period, the prosecutor is satisfied the organisation has met its obligations, there is no prosecution. If not, a prosecution could be brought.”
DPAs will be legislated for by amendment to the Crime and Courts Bill currently before Parliament.
Allen & Overy’s take on DPAs is here.