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SFO’s approach to deferred prosecution agreements

Posted on 19 August 2019. Source: Law Society Gazette

Last month, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that it had entered into a new deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) in relation to offences of fraud and false accounting by Serco Geografix Ltd.

Introduced in 2014, DPAs provide a mechanism whereby the SFO or Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) can charge a corporate entity with a criminal offence, but, subject to the court’s approval, the proceedings are suspended subject to the corporate complying with certain conditions.

The latest DPA with Serco Geografix Ltd (SGL) is the fifth of its kind, following similar deals with Standard Bank Plc (2015), Sarclad Ltd (2016), Rolls Royce Plc (2017) and Tesco Stores Limited (2017). There is now a body of case law providing guidance as to the circumstances in which the SFO will be prepared to enter, and the court willing to approve, a DPA.

Together, the judgments make clear that the court will generally only approve a DPA in circumstances in which the corporate has demonstrated a degree of contrition and willingness to take steps to remediate and prevent future misconduct, typically (though not in all instances) by self-reporting wrongdoing to the relevant prosecuting body, cooperating with the resulting investigation, and undertaking extensive remedial action to address the historic failings.

Read the full article in Law Society Gazette here.

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