News & what's on - Written by on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 1:19 - 0 Comments

Time(table) for Deferred Prosecution Agreements

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Deferred Prosecution Agreements will take another step closer to the Statute Book on March 13 when the Bill is due to have its report stage and third reading.

Schedule 16 of the Crime and Courts Bill lays out the substance of the current state of play.

However, there is still a way to go.

While the passage of the Bill through the legislature is progressing there remains additional ancillary work to be done by government.

Draft Code of Practice for Prosecutors to be published

In the next few months a Draft Code of Practice for Prosecutors needs to be published by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Director of the Serious Fraud Office for consultation.  We anticipate that something should be published before the summer.

It is envisaged that this Code will contain some of the more practical detail. Government has suggested that the Code should lay out the principles for when a DPA will be considered appropriate, the principles applying to such a decision and any factors which could suggest a DPA would be unsuitable.

Additional elements recommended by government include a provision for the protection of legal professional privilege, guidance on the process to be adopted by the prosecutor and advice on how a prosecutor should deal with decisions to prosecute upon termination of an agreement for breach.

Various other suggestions as to the contents of the Code were made by participants in the governments consultation last year.

Sentencing Council guidelines for sentencing in economic crime to re published

Likewise the Sentencing Council has indicated that it is currently intending to publish guidelines on penalties after conviction for economic crimes covered by DPA’s and it is anticipated by the Government that these will offer the certainty around potential penalties which could be agreed under a DPA.

It is anticipated that the DPA regime will be ready to swing into action in the early part of 2014.

Some commentators are already downplaying the significance of the UK’s DPA regime and its likely utility when compared to the US system.

We disagree, but more about that later…

 

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