The UK Bribery Act and Beyond – Preparing for Change

By Michael W. Johnson

This article will detail the most important elements of the law, highlighting the restrictions that are broader than previous anti-corruption laws, such as the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). It will then discuss the steps companies should take to ensure that they have “adequate procedures” in place to prevent prosecution under the law.

What is the act?

The UK’s recently enacted Bribery Act 2010 is causing companies around the world to re-examine their anti-bribery policies and prevention efforts. The law, which applies to companies that conduct any part of their business in the UK, prohibits bribes of government officials or privately employed individuals anywhere in the world. There are no exceptions for “hospitality” or “promotional” expenditures (i.e. paying for flights, dinners or gifts, etc.) or small “facilitation payments” to expedite routine government actions.

Companies can be strictly liable for bribes paid by any person associated with their business, even if they didn’t know about, or authorise, the bribe. Companies that violate the Act will face unlimited fines. Individuals who commit offences will also face an unlimited fine and potentially up to ten years in prison. Fortunately, a company can raise a complete defence to its failure to prevent a bribe if it has in place “adequate procedures” to prevent bribery from occurring.

 

 
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