News and Events

Bribery Act 2010 review could lead to delay

  • Posted

The Coalition government has placed the new Act under review just months before its due implementation date in April 2011 as a result of increased lobbying by big business that accuse the new Act of placing UK companies at a great disadvantage in global trade. The legislation is designed to reform corruption law to provide a comprehensive scheme of bribery offences to enable courts to effectively prosecute allegations of bribery in the UK and overseas. The most significant part of the new act is the introduction of a strict liability corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery which does not require any corrupt intent.

A media campaign is also being waged against the Act which, if implemented as it stands, will be one of the toughest anti-corruption legislation in the world and a burden on UK companies and individuals in international trade.

It is unlikely that the government will be making major changes to the Act or even repealing it as the legislation is already on the statute books and any alteration would require further legislation which in itself would take months. The government is committed by international treaty to strengthen the UK’s anti-bribery laws and bring them in line with the rest of the world. Recent bribery scandals involving UK companies have expedited the need for new anti-corruption laws and the OECD has repeatedly criticised the UK for mot meeting its treaty obligations.


Anti-bribery compliance measures and training should be in place within all businesses including partnerships and corporate entities.

The maximum penalty for individuals will be 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine.

The maximum penalty for a corporate will be an unlimited fine.

Other implications upon conviction under the new Bribery Act include director disqualification and asset confiscation.

If your company or organisation does not have adequate compliance measures in place, it could affect your ability to do business with other entities abroad. Many overseas companies now require reciprocal contractual undertakings covering anti-bribery legislation. You could be asked to provide evidence of the steps you have taken to prevent corruption and bribery within your organisation by trading partners, clients and customers.