A deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) is an arrangement reached between a prosecutor (namely the Serious Fraud Office or Crown Prosecution Service) and a company to resolve a matter that they could otherwise be prosecuted for.
DPAs were introduced under Schedule 17 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 and are available only in relation to schedule offences which include violations under the Companies Act 2006, Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Bribery Act 2010.
There must be sufficient evidence available to present a realistic prospect of a conviction were there to be a prosecution. But, as so few companies are willing to face criminal prosecution the benefit of a DPA is it allows a prosecutor to charge a company with a criminal offence but, once considered by a Judge to be ‘in the interests of justice’ and the terms of the DPA are considered to be ‘fair, reasonable and proportionate’, the proceedings will be suspended and only re-commenced if the terms of the DPA are not complied with.
DPAs present an efficient and cost effective way to deal with corporate wrongdoings. So far DPAs have been used by several high-profile companies such as those relating to Tesco’s Stores PLC, Serco, Standard Bank and Rolls Royce.
A company will still be obliged to pay a financial sanction or some sort of compensation but they are becoming increasingly common when it is not in the public interest to prosecute.
For more information see the CPS website https://www.cps.gov.uk/publication/deferred-prosecution-agreements-code-practice