News & what's on - Written by on Thursday, May 17, 2012 4:15 - 2 Comments

BREAKING: Ministry of Justice Publishes Deferred Prosecution Agreement consultation

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The Ministry of Justice has today published the eagerly awaited government consultation into Deferred Prosecution Agreements.

The consultation follows an informal consultation which kicked off in our offices in October last year.

In the accompanying press release the Solicitor General Edward Garnier QC MP, who is a very strong supporter of the proposal said:

“If we can encourage companies to self-report and come clean, pay penalties and mend their ways, the time and expense of investigations and prosecutions will be better spent elsewhere, enabling us to bring more individuals and companies to justice.

An important aim of any DPA system would be to allow investigators and prosecutors to focus resources on those cases where a prosecution is in the public interest – and there will always be some where it is the only option.”

Justice Minister, Crispin Blunt said:

“Law enforcement agencies have told us that they do not have the tools they need to tackle increasingly complex economic crimes. Investigations can take several years and cost millions of pounds, with no guarantee of success, which means victims wait far too long for reparation. Or indeed receive no payback at all.

More clearly needs to be done. Deferred Prosecution Agreements will give prosecutors extra tools to tackle this type of crime and bring about a just outcome – which punishes the wrongdoer, ensures the surrendering of any proceeds and makes amends to victims.”

As envisaged in the consultation corporates could enter into so-called Deferred Prosecution Agreements along the lines that in return for complying with a range of conditions the prosecutor would defer a criminal prosecution.

Unlike the US system where DPA’s are largely negotiated between the DOJ and the corporate before being sent to court to be rubber stamped, it is envisaged that an independent judge would oversee the development of the UK agreement to ensure it is fair, in the public interest and that the conditions properly reflect the nature of the wrongdoing including reparation made to victims.

Under the regime at the end of the deferral period, the prosecutor is satisfied the organisation has fulfilled its obligations, there is no prosecution on the charges laid. If, on the other hand, the commercial organisation fails to meet its obligations, further penalties are available and the original criminal proceedings could be revived.

The introduction of a DPA regime will plug a hole in the current UK system and put an end to so-called enforcement arbitrage where corporates forum shop and end up doing a deal in the US to avoid the uncertainty of the UK system.

The consultation is open from today and will close on August 9.  We are very interested in hearing readers views on the proposal and will be submitting our views through the online consultation process.  A link to the Consultation is here.

We shall be running an event in our London office on the proposals. Details to follow. In the meantime, if you would like to let us know your views please contact barry.vitou@pinsentmasons.com


 

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2 Comments

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Johan Gray
May 19, 2012 2:36

Can any one take part in your consultation.

Barry & Richard
May 20, 2012 3:36

Hello Johan, yes anyone can take part.

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