Businesses will welcome delayed implementation of The Bribery Act 2010
The Government has been forced to delay the implementation of the new Bribery Act 2010 (which was due to come in force in April this year) in the face of fierce criticism from UK businesses. The new Bribery Act represents a comprehensive overall of the UK anti-corruption legislation and would have resulted in the UK having arguably the toughest anti-bribery and corruption regime anywhere in the world.
Rollits LLP`s clients, and businesses all over the UK, were becoming increasingly concerned that the promised formal Government guidance on how businesses could comply with the legislation had not yet been published despite being promised at the beginning of January this year.
Of greatest concern has been the new offence of "Failure of a commercial organisation to prevent bribery" as it imposes a strict liability on all UK businesses for corrupt actions of its agents (both in the UK and abroad). The only defence to this is if a business could show that it had in place "adequate procedures" to prevent such corrupt behaviour occurring. Lack of guidance as to what procedures would be classified as "adequate" meant that UK businesses could not be certain that they would not fall foul of the offences created under the new Act.
The Ministry of Justice has been forced to recognise that such uncertainty is not acceptable and in a statement released on 31 January 2010 confirmed that "We are working on the guidance to make it practical and comprehensive for businesses."
There is no scheduled date for publication of the guidance and once published there will be a further three month period before the legislation comes into force to enable businesses to take the guidance in board.
Whilst it is clear that the Bribery Act 2010 will eventually come into force as our current legislative regime in this area is inadequate, UK businesses will welcome this delay and will be glad to receive proper guidance from the Government when it is finally published. Such guidance will hopefully enable businesses to put the required "adequate" procedures in place which will enable them to comply with the requirements of the Bribery Act 2010.
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