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The Introduction of the new Bribery Act: 1 July 2011

Fri 1 Jul 2011

The Introduction of the new Bribery Act: 1 July 2011

The Bribery Act 2010 shall come into force on 1 July 2011 when the Act will repeal and replace England's old laws on bribery with a new comprehensive anti-bribery code.

For the first time, the new Act shall extend the crime of bribery to cover all private sector transactions and codify the various offences in a single piece of legislation. 

There are four principal offences:

1. Paying bribes: it will be an offence to offer or give a financial or other advantage with the intention of inducing that person to perform a "relevant function or activity" "improperly" or to reward that person for doing so.

2. Receiving bribes: it will be an offence to receive a financial or other advantage intending that a "relevant function or activity" should be performed "improperly" as a result.

3. Bribery of foreign public officials. This offence will be committed if a person offers or gives a financial or other advantage to a foreign public official with the intention of influencing the foreign public official and obtaining or retaining business, where the foreign public official was neither permitted nor required by written law to be so influenced.

4. Failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery. This is the most controversial offence as it can only be committed by commercial organisations such as companies and partnerships. It will be committed where a person associated with a relevant commercial organisation bribes another person intending to obtain or retain a business advantage; and the organisation cannot show that it had "adequate procedures" in place to prevent bribes being paid.

Under this corporate criminal offence, the company may be guilty even if no one within the company knew of the bribery. The company's defence is limited to showing that it had "adequate procedures" to prevent bribery. That effectively creates a burden on directors ands other company officers to ensure that their anti-corruption procedures are sufficiently robust to stop any employees, agents or other third parties acting on the companies’ behalf from committing bribery.

To assist companies the Ministry of Justice issued Guidance Notes setting six principles to give commercial organizations assistance in planning, implementing, monitoring and reviewing their anti corruption and bribery policies and procedures before the Act came into force. These six principles were; "Proportionate Procedures; Top Level Commitment; Risk Assessment; Due Diligence; Communication and Monitoring and Review".

For full details, please click here /uploads/Newsletter June 2011.pdf

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