Following the introduction of the deferred prosecution agreement (“DPA“) earlier this year, the consultation on the draft code of practice closed on 20 September 2013. A summary of the consultation is expected by the end of the year. The introduction of a DPA, a form of out-of-court settlement, is an important development for companies, in particular for those operating in the UK.

A DPA is an agreement between a company and a prosecutor where both parties agree to forgo further prosecution. Further prosecution can be avoided only if the company complies with the terms of the agreement. The terms may include not only monetary requirements, such as a financial penalty, but also the requirement to cooperate with the prosecution of individuals.

DPAs were first introduced in the United States. UK legislation on DPAs bears many similarities to the US version, but there are also several differences. First, unlike the US DPA, the use of DPAs in the UK is limited to offences such as fraud, bribery and money laundering. Moreover, US prosecutors can enter into DPAs with both individuals and corporations, whereas the UK DPA applies solely to corporations. Unlike the US, in the UK the judiciary also has a more active role under English law. DPAs are expected to enter into force in February 2014.