While all prosecutors must apply the Full Code Test (for a full explanation see right) when deciding whether to prosecute an alleged offence, different prosecuting authorities may have different motivations and consider different factors when deciding the issue.
Taking the example of the SFO, the current Director, David Green QC, has openly taken a more aggressive approach to prosecution than his predecessor, often reinforcing the fact that SFO is first and foremost a prosecuting authority. However, in contrast, the prosecuting authority for the HRMC (the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office (RCPO)) operates a selective criminal prosecution policy and is able to adopt civil settlement procedures for tax offences. In the remainder of this section, we focus on when the SFO may decide to prosecute bribery and other economic crime offences.
The Director of the SFO may institute and have conduct of any criminal proceedings which appear to him to relate to serious or complex fraud/bribery and must consider the Code for Crown Prosecutors (the Code) when deciding whether to bring charges. A copy of the Code can be found here.
• the Director of the SFO, Director of the RCPO and the Director of Public Prosecutions have published guidance on corporate prosecutions (the Corporate Prosecution Guidance)
• the SFO and CPS have published a Code of Practice for Deferred Prosecution Agreements (the DPA Code) (more information on deferred prosecution agreements generally can be found here)
• the Director of the SFO and Director of Public Prosecutions have published joint prosecution guidance on the Bribery Act offences (the Joint Prosecution Guidance)
which may be taken into account when deciding whether to prosecute a corporate under the Bribery Act (or just the latter guidance, in the event of a prosecution of an individual). In particular, they provide specific indicators as to the factors a prosecutor will take into account when considering whether it is in the public interest to prosecute an offence.