Deferred Prosecution Agreement

25 November, 2019 | 2 minute read

Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) are agreements between a prosecutor and a company that suspend a prosecution while the company undertakes certain measures, such as paying a fine, compensating victims, and introducing new procedures to ensure the wrongdoing cannot occur again.

What’s the issue?

Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) originated in the US and were introduced into the UK in 2014. Deferred Prosecution Agreements and other forms of settlements with companies are the predominant way in many countries for dealing with economic crime, including foreign bribery allegations. The OECD has found that 78% of foreign bribery enforcement cases around the world since 1999 were resolved by some sort of settlement or non-trial resolution rather than conviction.

An increasing number of countries around the world are introducing them.

While DPAs can help law enforcement achieve quicker outcomes in economic crime cases they are controversial because they enable companies to avoid conviction by paying a fine. Some argue that they become a cost of doing business for companies while senior executives get off unscathed. This risks making them less effective at deterring corporate crime.

What does Spotlight on Corruption do?

We look at the use and effectiveness of DPAs. Our work builds on that done by Corruption Watch which pioneered tracking DPAs when they were introduced into the UK.

In particular, we look at:

Our resources

Justice for Whom? The need for a principled approach to Deferred Prosecution Agreements in England and Wales  – March 2020

Paper by Susan Hawley, Nicholas Lord and Colin King, in Soreide and Makinwa, Negotiated Settlements in Bribery Cases: a Principled Approach, Edward Elgar.

Airbus letter to Lisa Osofsky – February 2020

Civil society groups’ letter to the Director of the SFO on implications of the Airbus Deferred Prosecution Agreement

Where next for Deferred Prosecution Agreements – January 2020
This blog in the Law Gazette by Susan Hawley, Professor Nicholas Lord and Colin King raises some questions about how the current UK Deferred Prosecution Agreement regime is working.

Gulrap recieves UK DPA, individuals acquitted – December 2019

Article by Susan Hawley in the FCPA Blog.

Submission to the review of the OECD Working Group on Bribery on non-trial resolutions in foreign bribery cases – January 2018

Corruption Watch submission to the OECD Working Group on Bribery about the use of settlements.

A failure of nerve: the SFO’s settlement with Rolls Royce – January 2017

Corruption Watch blog examining the DPA with Rolls Royce and the serious questions it raised.

Out of court, out of mind: do Deferred Prosecution Agreements and corporate settlements deter overseas corruption? – March 2016

Corruption Watch report looking in detail criticisms of DPAs and what might make them more effective.

The UK’s first Deferred Prosecution Agreement: good news for the SFO but worrying news for Tanzania and the fight against corruption – December 2015

Corruption Watch briefing on the UK’s first DPA with Standard Bank for failing to prevent bribery on a loan agreement with the Tanzanian government. The briefing raises real concerns about whether justice had been done.