The director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Solicitor General, Edward Garnier QC, have recently made no secret of the fact that they consider the criminal justice system to be incapable of dealing with corporate prosecutions in a way that refects commercial realities. The blunt impact of a prosecution of a company has the impact of damaging innocent parties including employees, shareholders and creditors. Garnier cited the cautionary example of the ill-effects of prosecution caused to Arthur Andersen, eventually acquitted on charges of obstruction of justice by the US Supreme Court, many years after the allegations had destroyed the company. US prosecutors have a tool at their disposal, the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), which is being touted as a viable alternative to the present options of either prosecution or civil recovery. Much of the impetus for the reform has been caused by the difficulties faced by the SFO when they sought to prosecute Innospec. The SFO effectively had already agreed with the company, pre-sentencing, the nature of the sentence in return for a guilty plea. This was criticized by Thomas LJ who reminded the SFO that it is for the Judge to determine sentence at his discretion and especially that any plea must be “rigorously
scrutinized in open court”.