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On 31 January 2020, Dame Victoria Sharp, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division sitting in the Crown Court in Southwark, approved the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (“DPA”) between the UK Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) and Airbus S.E. (“Airbus”), the ultimate parent company of the Airbus Group.

Under the DPA, Airbus must pay €990,963,712 to the SFO — the largest UK DPA financial settlement to date and greater than the combined total of all previous financial settlements under UK DPAs.

In this briefing, we provide an overview of the Airbus investigation, draw out the Court’s key considerations in its determination that a DPA was in the interests of justice (despite the egregious nature of the conduct) and we consider the potential implications for corporates who may wish to pursue a DPA where bribery and corruption is identified.

In particular, Dame Sharp’s comments in relation to Airbus’ self-reporting and cooperation, and her emphasis on the importance of debarment for Airbus, add useful colour to the increasing pool of DPA case law.

As this is also the first instance of a UK DPA being reached with a non-UK entity (Airbus is registered in the Netherlands), we also discuss the jurisdictional reach of the ‘failure to prevent’ offence under section 7 of the UK Bribery Act 2010 (the “Act”); albeit that, as jurisdiction was conceded by Airbus, it was not a contested matter that the Court had to determine.

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