Deferred prosecution agreements: draft code of practice published

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US-style deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) are due to be introduced into the UK early next year. The draft code of practice issued last week by the UK authorities gives us the first real insight into how DPAs in the UK will work in practice. A key question still remains as to whether DPAs will encourage corporates to self-report to the UK authorities.

DPAs have formed part of the armoury of US prosecutors for almost two decades and have been increasingly used in relation to offences under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The reason for importing DPAs into the UK is that they are intended to provide a cheap and fast means of resolving financial crime. However, unlike its US counterpart, the UK version will require active judicial consideration and approval of the DPA at the outset and end of the negotiation process.

A DPA is a voluntary agreement between a prosecuting authority and a commercial organisation that is accused of committing an economic crime. It involves charging the company with the crime but then suspending the proceedings in return for a range of sanctions. The company avoids prosecution provided that the conditions set out in the DPA are fulfilled. Those conditions are likely to include a fine, compensation for victims, implementation of a compliance programme and co-operation with an investigation into the offence…

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