The UK Bribery Act 2010 comes into force on 1 July 2011. This Act consolidates existing anti-bribery provisions in the UK as well as introducing a new corporate offence and therefore has important implications for all companies that do business in and from the UK.
The Act aims to eliminate bribery and its negative impact on economic growth and is widely considered to implement one of the most restrictive anti-bribery regimes in the world. The Act has much in common with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, but in some key areas goes even further for example, by making bribery an offence in the private as well as public sector and by outlawing all facilitation payments (i.e. small bribes paid to facilitate routine government action e.g. customs clearance).
The Act gives UK regulatory authorities jurisdiction outside the UK in certain cases and the Director of Public Prosecutions and the UK Serious Fraud Office have both signalled that they will aggressively use this jurisdiction to prosecute companies regardless of where the illegal conduct takes place.
The Act includes the following criminal offences:
- Active Bribery i.e. where a person directly or indirectly offers, promises to give or gives a bribe (i.e. a financial or other advantage)
- Passive Bribery i.e. where a person directly or indirectly, requests, offers to receive or receives a bribe
- Bribery of a Foreign Public Official
All of these offences can be committed not only by individuals, but also by commercial organisations.