As part of the Government of Canada’s consultations on the adoption of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) regime, the Chamber presents an overview of this tool used to fight corporate crime.
What is a deferred prosecution agreement?
Since the beginning of the 2000s, the Government of Canada has been trying to increase its ability to fight corporate crime. Currently, it only has two options at its disposal:
- halt the prosecution of a company due to a lack of evidence
- commit to undertaking court proceedings that are often long and costly
A deferred prosecution agreement is an additional tool for Canada’s justice system. A DPA is a voluntary agreement negotiated between an accused party and legal authorities that often involves financial penalties, heavy fines, or non-monetary penalties (a reform of the company’s governance, board of directors, the firing of responsible employees; an admission of guilt; an agreement to cooperate; and a determined probationary period). In return, the company will not face prosecution as long as they respect the terms of the agreement1.
What are the advantages of a DPA regime?
A DPA regime would:
- make it easier for corporations to admit to wrongdoing
- avoid harming the Canadian economy while penalizing criminal acts
Global competition presents a lot of challenges for our companies. For example, they can expose themselves to risks when they approach a new market or associate with new partners. Sometimes, due diligence fails and the security of companies is compromised. If third parties commit wrongdoings, our companies may find themselves in situations that can have a negative impact on their employees, investors, and even the Canadian economy.
The DPA plan can limit these consequences. However, it must be implemented under the supervision of courts and it must be completely transparent.
The United States and the United Kingdom are examples of countries that have begun relying on this tool. By modernizing the Canadian legal framework, our companies will no longer be at a disadvantage and overlooked for business opportunities such as public calls for tender on the basis of pending corruption charges.
To find out more about the DPA regime, read the Chamber’s notice titled: Improving our legal framework to ensure the sustainability of our companies.
1 Alexander & Cohen, 2015, cited by: INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH ON PUBLIC POLICY (2016), Finding the Right Balance: Policies to Combat White-Collar Crime in Canada and Maintain the Integrity of Public Procurement.