In February 2010, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the US Department of Justice (DoJ) both announced details of settlements with BAE Systems plc (BAE) in a ground breaking global agreement.

On 1 March 2010, BAE pleaded guilty in the US to conspiring to make false statements to the US Government and received a fine of $400 million.

The High Court has since granted an injunction in favour of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and the Corner House (Claimants), which prohibits the SFO from taking any further steps in relation to its plea-agreement settlement with BAE, until the Court determines the Claimants' application for judicial review.

The Claimants' are seeking permission to judicially review the proposed settlement reached between the SFO and BAE. The Claimants assert, in their statement of facts submitted to the High Court, that the settlement was unlawful as the SFO did not follow the correct prosecution guidance (including its own guidance) on plea discussions. In addition, they assert that the settlement agreed does not reflect the seriousness and extent of BAE's alleged corruption. If the Claimants are granted permission to pursue their claim for judicial review, they will be seeking the following by way of remedy:

  • a declaration that the SFO's decision to enter into a plea agreement with BAE was unlawful;
  • an order quashing that decision;
  • a mandatory order requiring SFO to reconsider the prosecution of BAE in accordance with the law;
  • a declaration that the decision to withdraw the criminal charges against one of the relevant individuals was unlawful;
  • an order quashing that decision; and
  • a mandatory order requiring the SFO to reconsider the prosecution of one of the relevant individuals in accordance with the law.

The Court is due to make its decision on whether the Claimants can pursue their claim for judicial review by 20 March 2010.