The Bribery Act 2010 was intended to be a big answer to a big question: how can extant anti-bribery compliance programmes best be improved so that they can further mitigate the risk of bribery in the UK (and abroad) and maintain the integrity of British business?

The answer to the conundrum, as far as the Act was concerned, was to align the UK with the convention drawn up by the member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for dealing with corruption of foreign public officials.

The Act contains four main offences: (i) offering, promising or giving a bribe (Section 1); (ii) requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting a bribe (Section 2); (iii) bribing a foreign public official (Section 6); and (iv) failing to prevent bribery (Section 7), which applies to relevant commercial organisations only.

The Act also updated and clarified the law on personal criminal liability for paying or receiving bribes, as well as introducing a strict liability offence, meaning that a commercial organisation is automatically held liable for bribes paid by any of its employees, agents or associated persons to secure business. The only defence available, so says the Act, is if an organisation can demonstrate that it had ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent bribery.

Apr-Jun 2016 Issue

Fraser Tennant