A Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) is a legal arrangement that allows a company suspected of criminal wrongdoing to avoid prosecution by agreeing to certain conditions imposed by the prosecuting authority. In France, a DPA is known as a “convention judiciaire d`intérêt public” or CJIP.
Under a DPA, the company agrees to cooperate with the authorities, pay a fine or restitution, and implement internal reforms to prevent future misconduct. In return, the prosecuting agency agrees to defer prosecution for a specified period of time, typically between one and three years. If the company complies with the agreement during that time, the charges are dropped and the company avoids a criminal conviction.
DPAs are becoming an increasingly popular tool for law enforcement agencies around the world, as they allow companies to take responsibility for their actions and make amends without facing the severe consequences of a criminal conviction. They also enable prosecutors to hold companies accountable for their actions while avoiding the costly and time-consuming process of a criminal trial.
In France, DPAs were introduced in 2016 in response to criticism that the country`s legal system was too slow and ineffective in dealing with corporate wrongdoing. The CJIP allows companies to admit to their misconduct, pay a fine, and avoid prosecution as long as they meet certain conditions, such as implementing internal reforms and cooperating with the authorities.
The CJIP has been used in several high-profile cases in France, including the corruption scandal involving the French oil company Total and the ongoing investigation into alleged corruption at Airbus. In both cases, the companies agreed to pay substantial fines and implement internal reforms in exchange for deferred prosecution.
While DPAs are controversial in some circles, they are seen by many as a necessary tool for holding corporations accountable for their actions and promoting a culture of corporate responsibility. As more countries adopt DPAs as part of their legal system, it will be interesting to see how they evolve and how effective they are in deterring corporate wrongdoing.