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Last edited 09 Dec 2019
Bribery Act 2010
The Bribery Act 2010 contains two general offences covering the offering, promising or giving of a bribe (active bribery) and the requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting of a bribe (passive bribery) at sections 1 and 2 respectively.
It also sets out two further offences which specifically address commercial bribery:
- Section 6 of the Act creates an offence relating to bribery of a foreign public official in order to obtain or retain business or an advantage in the conduct of business.
- Section 7 creates a new form of corporate liability for failing to prevent bribery on behalf of a commercial organisation.
The Act applies to UK citizens, residents and companies established under UK law. Also non UK companies doing business in the UK may be liable for failure to prevent bribery. The new law also applies to offences committed abroad by UK citizens, residents and companies.
The objective of the Act is not to bring the full force of the criminal law to bear upon well run commercial organisations that experience an isolated incident of bribery on their behalf. So in order to achieve an appropriate balance, section 7 provides a full defence. This is in recognition of the fact that no bribery prevention regime will be capable of preventing bribery at all times. However, the defence is also included in order to encourage commercial organisations to put procedures in place to prevent bribery by persons associated with them.
Organisations should develop and implement procedures which set out how they intend to ensure that the provisions of the Act are not breached by their staff. Directors should issue a clear statement of policy to all staff and should provide for the necessary training to make sure that all staff are fully aware of the law in this regard. All organisations should make clear the consequences which would arise in the event that the law in this regard is broken.
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