The general scheme of the Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill (the “Scheme”) has recently been released for public consultation.  Currently the law on corruption is mainly contained in a number of statutes, one of which dates back to 1889.  Given the outdated nature of some of the statutes and the fragmented means of locating relevant provisions, a comprehensive consolidated Act is to be welcomed. 

Key Provisions:

  • Corruptly will to include doing any act or making any omission in breach of duty, acting without due impartiality, acting in breach of a relevant code of ethics or discipline, acting in pursuit of undue benefit, acting in a deceitful, dishonest or misleading manner, or with an improper purpose.  This is much broader than the definition of corruptly under the current regime and extends beyond the scope of similar legislation in the UK. 
  • Offences
    • Active and Passive Corruption – giving or receiving inducements to do/omit to do something.
    • Active and Passive Trading in Influence – exerting an improper influence over an Irish/ foreign official.
    • Corruption in Office – Irish Public Officials corruptly obtaining a gift/advantage.
    • Bribery of a Foreign Public Official – bribing a foreign official.
    • Making reckless Payments – giving gifts knowing or being reckless as to whether it will be used to facilitate the commission of one of these offences.
    • Using a Document to Deceive – corruptly using a document while knowing /believing it contains false information to induce another to act/make an omission.
    • Intimidation – directly/indirectly threatening harm to another in order to influence him to do some act.
    • Offences by Companies - an offence committed by a director, employee, agent or other officer of a company with the intention of obtaining or retaining business or to obtain or retain an advantage, will render the company guilty of an offence also. 
  • Presumptions –A gift or donation given to a public official by a party who had an interest in the discharge of functions of that official will be presumed to have been given or received corruptly unless proven otherwise.  In other words, the burden of proof is on the public official, who will have to prove that the payment was not corrupt.
  • Liability - Senior management, and possibly even shareholders, may be held criminally liable where they are deemed to have been wilfully involved in the commission of the  offence by the company.
  • Defence of ‘All Reasonable Steps’ - It will be a defence for a company to prove that it took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence.
  • Penalties - The penalties for offences include fines and up to 10 years imprisonment and/or forfeiture of any gift/consideration or advantage following conviction on indictment.