Bribery Act 2010
The Bribery Act - What? When? Where? And how?
What is it?
The Bribery Act (the "Act") is new legislation that crystallises previous common law and updates Britain's anti-bribery legislation. The purpose of the Act is to create four new offences. Two new general offences of bribery (active and passive - making or accepting a bribe) and two further offences of bribing a foreign public official and (for corporate organisations) of failing to prevent bribery.
The corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery is particularly significant for commercial organisations as it imposes strict liability on them and their employees. The only defence is that the company has "adequate procedures" in place to prevent bribery. Exactly what adequate procedures are, is unclear, with the government publishing principles and general guidelines rather than a clearly defined company manual. Our role will be to adapt these principles to your specific business and ensure that adequate procedures to are in place to minimise your risk.
When does it come into force?
1 July 2011. Final guidance to the Act came out at the end of March.
Where does it apply?
All offences have extra-territorial scope and each offence can be committed even where no relevant acts take place in the UK. So, a French company, with commercial activities in the UK, doing business in China can be caught by the Act. The Act is far reaching and imposes stringent limitations.
How will it work?
Questions have been raised in the business community regarding enforcement. In particular the position of joint ventures and subsidiaries are unclear. The government has hinted that more guidelines will be published this month, but so far none has been issued. Businesses are justifiably concerned about corporate hospitality and expenses. The Serious Fraud Office (the "SFO") has said that where corporate hospitality is moderate and reasonable, prosecution would not be in the public interest. However it does appear that an 'easy' area for the SFO to target would be exactly such hospitality rather than facilitation payments made by agents in overseas markets.
Davenport Lyons will be producing an edition of Essentially Business concentrating solely before the Act comes into force covering topics including what practical steps businesses need to minimise their risk.
Bribery Act E-Alerts
- Changes to the jurisdictional reach of the Bribery Act?
- New Bribery Act under review as strong debate continues
- Government delays Bribery Act
Bribery Act in the News
(links to external content)
- Putting an end to corruption
- Do we have the Luxury to remain Compliance-Curious
- Consider the UK with our local bribery laws
- High Tide: From a FIFA ultimatum to 'the family' in Tunisia
- When a bribe is merely facilitating business
- UK Bribery Act may alter African business
- Santander reviews UK advisers as Barclays quizzes panel on hospitality
- Leaked Bribery Act changes 'unfair to UK companies'
- Serious Fraud Office boss worried about Bribery Act delays
- Lord Howe criticises Bribery Act 'delay'
- Bribery Act: SFO to be 'sympathetic' towards joint ventures in corrupt countries
- The Bribery Act is a case of 'right idea, wrong time' for the Government
- Bribery Act is not perfect but brings UK into line with OECD
- SFO given just £2m to enforce Bribery Act
- BAE Seeks Clarity on When Hospitality Becomes a Bribe
- Does the Bribery Act Make the U.K. the New Sheriff in Town?
- Getting to grips with Bribery Act
- Coalition "putting politics before economy", says CBI's Richard Lambert
- Bribery Act leaves FDs scratching their heads
- Is the GC your Company's "Moral Compass"?