Tuesday, 10 April 2012 10:35

Deferred Prosecution Agreements

Another good reason to implement SeeHearSpeakUp in your organisation…

Businesses should welcome the recent announcement by the Solicitor General, where Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA's) are to be introduced in the UK.

When an organisation comes forward and admits to 'wrong-doing', under a DPA, the organisation will pay a fine and more than likely, pay some compensation to the parties who were 'wronged'.

When entering into such an agreement, the prosecuting authority will defer and eventually take no further proceedings against the organisation, providing that they comply with a period of monitoring.

Current UK legislation can see prosecutors negotiate a plea arrangement with the organisation, but they may still face criminal punishment that can affect business and harm reputation.

DPA’s are operated in the US, where organisations can negotiate settlements with a fair degree of certainty with regards to the scope of their punishment.

It should be stressed that the future implementation of DPA’s do not provide an easy 'out' for organisations to knowingly commit wrong-doing and later rely on the agreement to alleviate their penalty. There will be instances where the criminal conduct is so serious that only a full investigation and prosecution is an appropriate outcome.

However, where organisations are prepared to face the consequences, admit their wrong-doing and accept their punishment, is it not more appropriate that they are dealt with by means of a DPA?

In order to self-report and have the opportunity to enter into a DPA, organisations need to know of the 'wrong-doing' in the first instance. Remember, forewarned is forearmed and the implementation of SeeHearSpeakUp in any organisation provides employees with the opportunity to highlight their concerns and information on 'wrong-doing' and other matters.

The legislation is to be introduced later this year would only initially be in force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is not yet known what approach the Scottish Government will adopt.