February 2014 marks an important landmark in the UK authorities’ ongoing efforts to fight corporate crime, international corruption and bribery. On 24 February 2014, a new Part 12 of the Criminal Procedure Rules will come into force, and the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) will become available as an additional tool to assist UK prosecutors in tackling a wide range of corporate criminal offences. The basic features of the new DPA regime are set out in our Outline below. Further details on practical implementation are expected when the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) publish a Code of Conduct later this year.
The aim of the DPA is to incentivise cooperation from organisations under investigation by offering a negotiated resolution (in the form of a court-sanctioned, written settlement) in order to avoid the potentially catastrophic consequences of a conviction in the criminal courts. In return for compliance, the prosecutor will defer and ultimately discontinue criminal prosecution. The DPA is therefore also intended to allow effective supervision of remedial measures undertaken by the organisation through maintaining the threat of prosecution over a fixed time period.
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