The Ministry of Justice has published guidance on the Bribery Act 2010, which will come into force on 1 July 2011. Businesses will have three months to prepare before the Act comes into force.
The guidance provides information on the safeguards that businesses can put into place to prevent bribery as well as case studies on hospitality, facilitation payments and joint ventures. It also gives an indicative but non-exhaustive list of topics that a business's anti-bribery policy should cover, for example disciplinary procedures and sanctions for a breach of the anti-bribery policy. The guidance is based on six guiding principles: proportionate procedures; top-level commitment; risk assessment; due diligence; communication (including training); and monitoring and review. The guidance makes clear that the Act will not prohibit bona fide hospitality, promotional or other business expenditure, provided that it is proportionate and reasonable. The guidance is also accompanied by a non-statutory quick start guide, which is aimed at helping small businesses prepare for the Act's implementation.
The Act was due to come into force in April 2011 but the Government delayed its implementation, following a reassessment of the Act as part of the Growth Review. The Act aims to promote anti-bribery practices among businesses by introducing a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business. A business will have a defence if it can show that it had "adequate procedures" in place to prevent bribery. The penalty for the corporate offence is an unlimited fine.
The Act also aims to simplify the law on bribery by individuals, by making it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe. It introduces a new offence of bribing a foreign public official. The Act raises the maximum penalty for individuals found guilty of bribery from seven to 10 years' imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.
Bribery Act 2010 The Bribery Act 2010 is available on the OPSI website.
Bribery Act 2010: implications for employers Paul Gaff, partner at Thomas Eggar, considers the implications of the Act.
The XpertHR legal timetable provides summaries of forthcoming and recently implemented legislation.