The Bribery Act 2010
The Bribery Act 2010 received Royal Assent on 8th April. Although matters are a little uncertain in the wake of the General Election, it seems likely that the Act will be brought into force later this year.
Introduced to strengthen the existing bribery and corruption laws in the UK, the Act introduces four new offences of:
• bribing another person;
• being bribed;
• bribing a foreign public official; and
• failure of a commercial organisation to prevent bribery.
On conviction in the Crown Court, these offences are all punishable by an unlimited fine. The first three offences also carry a prison sentence of up to ten years.
Although the Act is not yet in force, you may want to start thinking about the possible implications for your business. Two aspects of the Act are particularly worthy of note. Firstly, there will be the ability to prosecute bribery of a foreign public official in the UK Courts where there is a close connection with the UK – e.g. where the alleged offence has been committed by a UK citizen or by a company registered in the UK. You may want to assess the risk profile of doing business in various countries.
Secondly, there is the offence of a commercial organisation failing to prevent bribery. Before this offence is actually brought into force, the Act states that the Government must issue guidance as to the procedures which an organisation should adopt to prevent bribery. Draft guidance has already been issued.
Update: On 20th July 2010, the Ministry of Justice issued a press release in which it announced two key dates:
• September 2010 – The launch of a consultation on the guidance as to the procedures which a commercial organisation should adopt if it is to have a defence to a charge of failing to prevent bribery. It is understood that the consultation will be public and that the Ministry of Justice hopes to publish it on their website in early September. The intention is to release the final guidance early in 2011 to allow organisations time to familiarise themselves with it before the Act comes into force;
• April 2011 - The Act will come into force.
If you would like to know more about the Bribery Act 2010 and the implications for your business, please contact David Dees or Nick Crook.
Filed: 15/06/2010 08:36:48