The Bribery Act 2010 (‘The Act’) received royal assent on April 8th 2010 and is due to come into force in April 2011.Â The act enables the courts to deal with bribery offences both here in the UK and abroad.
The act provides criminal law with a modern diverse system of bribery offences and replaces the complex laws provided for under common law and the Prevention of Corruption Act 1916 with a new comprehensive anti-bribery and anti-corruption code.
With new criminal offences ranging from competition law to financial services to bribery there is concern that the current corporate practices may unintentionally breach the new Act.
This new anti-corruption legislation is putting increasing pressure on law firms to recruit criminal lawyers in order to develop white-collar crime risk management capabilities within large corporations to prevent the risk of criminal liability which corporate Britain potentially faces.Â
With the realities of criminal investigations and prosecutions pending, concerned companies across the country may collate commercial litigation departments to provide criminal litigators to tackle this problem.
The Act makes it an offence to offer, promise or give an advantage or to request, agree, receive or accept an advantage.Â
It will be an offence to bribe a foreign public official and for a corporation to fail to have adequate procedures to prevent a bribe being paid or a bribe being paid on its behalf.Â
The new offences can be prosecuted both domestically and internationally if the act is carried out by a British national or corporation ordinarily resident in the UK whether the act is committed in or outside of UK jurisdiction.
In addition, the Act can be applied to commercial organisations which have a business presence in the UK whether or not their operations are controlled from the UK.Â
The act increases the maximum jail term for bribery from 7 years to 10 years for individuals and companies convicted of adequately failing to prevent bribery could receive unlimited fines.
The Secretary of State will be required to publish guidance procedure which ought to be followed and monitored closely.