Skip to main content

Deferred Prosecution Agreement

For corporate entities who are either under investigation or fear investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, the “Deferred Prosecution Agreement” represents a potent weapon in the SFO’s arsenal. DPA’s were first introduced into English law by the Crown and Courts Act 2013 which entered into force in February 2014.

The aim of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement is to encourage the self reporting of corporate wrongdoing to the SFO and, through a process of cooperation and negotiation avoid a criminal prosecution of the corporate entity. Rather than criminal sanctions, a DPA involves the parties agreeing to civil penalties, such as a fine, the payment of compensation to victims and the introduction of internal measures and procedures to prevent future offending.

However, when a corporate entity is considering approaching the SFO in respect of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, a delicate risk assessment must be undertaken to assess whether it is an appropriate course of action. It is of cardinal importance to ascertain what the prospects are of the SFO successfully mounting a prosecution before approaching them to defer that potential prosecution.

Even if an approach for a DPA is considered potentially appropriate, the process is not without risks and the DPA structure does not offer guaranteed benefits to reassure companies considering pursuing this avenue. Firstly there is no guarantee that a company that self reports will be offered a DPA. It is entirely at the prosecutor’s discretion.

Furthermore, the process is subject to Judicial oversight that is outwith the control of the parties; if a DPA is offered a Judge must give permission for negotiations to progress and if an agreement is reached, that agreement must be approved by the Court as being both in the interests of justice and fair reasonable and proportionate.

As the first Deferred Prosecution Agreement was confirmed by Lord Justice Leveson as recently as 30th November 2015, it is obvious that the process lacks a degree of certainty and clarity for potential participants. https://www.sfo.gov.uk/2015/11/30/sfo-agrees-first-uk-dpa-with-standard-bank/ 

Finally, it should also be considered that it may not be in a company’s best interests to self report- although the Bribery Act created a wide ranging offence of corporate failure to prevent Bribery, there is no equivalent in relation to a corporate failure to prevent, for example, fraud. The SFO has limited powers to prosecute companies in those circumstances as it must show that the controlling mind of the company, ie board level was aware of the criminal behavior in order to secure a corporate conviction. In such circumstances, a company should take advice as to how to act in its’ best interests.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, our team of Fraud solicitors are adopting Skype video calling to continue providing excellent legal services to you.

How To Contact Us

Cartwright King’s team of expert serious fraud lawyers can advise your company in respect of the potential merits and risks of approaching the SFO in relation to self reporting and potential Deferred Prosecution Agreements.

To contact our team, please call us or email us using the contact form below.

Cartwright King has offices in BirminghamBedfordDerbyLeedsLeicesterLondon TempleLutonManchesterMiddlesbroughNorthamptonNottinghamSheffield.

Email you enquiry:

Email your Enquiry

Please complete the form below providing a brief outline of your query, and a member of our friendly team will be in touch with you shortly.

What clients say about us

Please provide a brief outline of your query below, and one of our specialist team members will be in touch with you shortly.

OUR EXPERTS

Solicitor

Business Defence

The Legal 500 - The Clients Guide to Law Firms
TWITTER FEED
Email Cartwright King Solicitors
Call Cartwright King Solicitors
Enquiry Popup