Deferred Prosecution Agreement in Europe: An Overview
Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) is a legal mechanism that has been used in the United States for decades to settle corporate criminal cases outside of court. In recent years, the idea of DPAs has been gaining popularity in Europe, as a way to resolve complex and high-profile corporate criminal cases. But what exactly is a DPA? How does it work? And what are the implications of adopting this mechanism in the European legal system?
What is a Deferred Prosecution Agreement?
A Deferred Prosecution Agreement is a contract between a prosecutor and a company that allows the company to avoid criminal prosecution for certain illegal actions, in exchange for admitting wrongdoing, paying a financial penalty and agreeing to a set of conditions. The conditions usually include cooperation with ongoing investigations, implementing compliance measures, and submitting to independent monitoring. If the company complies with the terms of the DPA, the charges will be dropped after a set period of time, typically between one and three years.
DPAs are typically used in cases where a company has engaged in criminal behavior, such as bribery, fraud, or money laundering. They are designed to be a way to hold companies accountable for their actions while also avoiding the negative consequences of a criminal conviction, such as loss of reputation, loss of business, and damage to the economy.
DPAs in the United States
DPAs have been used in the United States for decades, particularly in cases involving white-collar crime. In recent years, they have become more common in cases involving foreign bribery and corruption. The US Department of Justice has used DPAs to settle cases involving major companies such as Siemens, Alstom, and BHP Billiton.
DPAs have been controversial in the United States, with critics arguing that they allow companies to avoid criminal prosecution for serious crimes. Supporters, on the other hand, argue that DPAs are an effective way to hold companies accountable and avoid the negative consequences of a criminal conviction.
DPAs in Europe
In recent years, several European countries have begun to adopt DPAs as a way to resolve complex and high-profile corporate criminal cases. The United Kingdom was the first to do so, with the introduction of DPAs in 2014. Since then, several other countries, including France, Italy, and Spain, have introduced DPAs as well.
The use of DPAs in Europe has been controversial, with some arguing that they undermine the rule of law and allow companies to avoid criminal prosecution for serious crimes. Others argue that DPAs are a necessary tool to fight corporate corruption and hold companies accountable.
DPAs in Europe: Pros and Cons
The use of DPAs in Europe has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, DPAs allow companies to avoid criminal prosecution and the negative consequences that come with it. They also provide a way for companies to cooperate with law enforcement and take steps to prevent future criminal behavior.
On the other hand, critics argue that DPAs allow companies to avoid criminal prosecution for serious crimes, and that they undermine the rule of law and the principle of equal treatment under the law. They also point out that DPAs can be seen as a form of “buying justice,” where companies are able to pay their way out of criminal charges.
Deferred Prosecution Agreements are a legal mechanism that has been used in the United States for decades to settle corporate criminal cases outside of court. In recent years, the idea of DPAs has been gaining popularity in Europe, as a way to resolve complex and high-profile corporate criminal cases. While DPAs have their advantages, such as allowing companies to avoid criminal prosecution and take steps to prevent future criminal behavior, they also have their disadvantages, such as undermining the rule of law and allowing companies to buy their way out of criminal charges. As DPAs become more common in Europe, it will be important to closely monitor their use and assess their impact on the legal system and society as a whole.