The Bribery Act 2010 - What You Need To Know
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that the Bribery Act 2010 will come into force on 1st July 2011. The Act will replace the UK’s existing anti-bribery and corruption legislation, which has been criticised for being overly complex and, until recently, rarely enforced.
The Act will give the UK some of the toughest anti-bribery legislation in the world and any multinational business with a UK presence will have to make significant changes to the way they operate in order to avoid criminal corporate liability, potentially ruinous fines and possible damage to reputation and share price.
The Act creates four new offences which in broad terms are; a general offence of paying a bribe (section 1), a general offence of accepting a bribe (section 2), a specific offence prohibiting the bribery of foreign pubic officials (section 6) and a corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery (section 7).
In a recent justice case in the UK, Lord Justice Thomas (Deputy Head of Criminal Justice) made it clear that corruption is at the top end of serious corporate offending. It’s therefore no surprise that the Act will raise the maximum jail term for an individual from 7 years to 10. Further, a company convicted of failing to prevent bribery under the Act will face unlimited fines.
In the light of the UK Government’s commitment to tackling international corporate corruption, it is likely that we will see more cases of international corruption in the UK criminal courts. As a result, it is recommended that all corporations, especially those that operate in high risk jurisdictions, understand the Act, the recent guidance and take appropriate action to update their systems, controls and business practises to ensure compliance.
Lesley Batchelor from Trade International Digest gives some suggestions as to what businesses can do about the Act.
It is essential that every level of the organisation, contractors and suppliers are made aware of the policy and its contents. The policy should not only clearly restrict any form of bribery, but also give guidance on the appropriate levels of gifts and hospitality that can be given ( or received) and make clear the route for whistle-blowers to make their concerns known.
As regards to gifts and hospitality, the guidance highlights that “reasonable, proportionate” hospitality and promotional expenditure “made in good faith [as] an established and important part of doing that business” will not be considered a breach of the Act.
The 45-page guidance document can be downloaded from http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/making-and-reviewing-the-law/bribery.htm
If interested in learning more about the Act the Chamber may be able to offer a workshop covering it in more detail, looking at how it will affect you and your company.
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