Justice Secretary Kenneth Clark has announced that the Bribery Act will come into force as from the 1st July 2011.
The Bribery Act modernises the old law which was a patchwork of common law and statutory offences. The Act is designed to bring the UK in line with overseas anti-corruption legislation. The Act will now make it a criminal offence to offer or receive a bribe, it also introduces a corporate offence of failing to prevent a bribe taking place.
Key points of the Act as outlined by the Ministry of Justice:
- This Act only deals with bribery and no other form of Criminal Law
- Your organisation may be liable for failing to prevent a person from bribing on your behalf BUT only if that person performs services for you in business
- There is a FULL defence if you can illustrate that your company had adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery
- Hospitality is not prohibited by this Act
- However, facilitation payments are bribes under the Act just as they were under the old law.
How could you become liable?
- If a very senior person in your organisation commits a bribery offence, the persons actions would then be attributed to the organisation
- If an employee or agent pays a bribe specifically to retain, win or gain business
However, prosecution can be avoided if you can illustrate the full defence of having adequate procedures in place to prevent this action.
Business Garage recommends you review your policies and staff handbook to ensure you are adequately covered for this new legislation.
For a quick start guide to the Bribery Act please view or download our PDF document on The Bribery Act, alternatively for more detailed information please see the government website PDF: http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/docs/bribery-act-2010-guidance.pdf