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DPAs: The way ahead

Now that the dust has settled, Paul Lazarus assesses the impact of the UK's first deferred prosecution agreement and the future benefits this may bring

26 January 2016

Deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) were on the cards in the UK for some years before finally being introduced in schedule 17 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

They have been used in a similar form in the US since the early 1990s to avoid costly prosecutions in return for undertakings by the companies involved to implement corporate reform and co-operate with investigations. The big difference in our jurisdiction is that DPAs will require judicial approval, whereas in the US the agreement can be reached between the parties alone.

The concept is inherently simple: a prosecution may be brought against a company for
a criminal offence, but the proceedings are automatically stayed pending the observance of a number of conditions. If the conditions are not observed, the prosecution may be resurrected.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has provided a number of possible conditions, such as a fine, payment of compensation, and co-operation with future prosecu...

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