The Bribery Act came into force on 1 July.

We outlined the potential implications of the legislation for employers in the July edition of our E-Bulletin and in particular the need for employers to ensure that they have adequate procedures in place to avoid bribery. With the first prosecution and conviction under the Act this message has been significantly reinforced.

Munir Patel, a former magistrates’ court administrative officer was convicted on 14 October after he admitted to accepting a bribe of £500 in return for overlooking a speeding charge. His actions fell foul of section 2 of the Act which makes it an offence to “request, agree to receive or accept a financial or other advantage intending that, in consequence, a relevant function or activity should be performed improperly.”

Mr Patel is awaiting sentencing which is due to take place on 11 November. Under the Act an individual convicted of an offence under section 2 can be liable to a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both.

Bear in mind that, whilst it was not relevant in this case, there is the potential for criminal sanctions to be imposed not only upon the individual employee but also upon the organisation that employs them in the event that it can be demonstrated that it failed to prevent bribery.

Remember though that it is a defence to such a charge against a company if it is able to prove that it had adequate procedures in place designed to prevent bribery from being committed by those performing services on its behalf. Employers should therefore ensure that they remain vigilant when it comes to preventing bribery and have clear anti-bribery policies in place within their organizations of which all staff are aware.

For more general information on the Bribery Act 2010, please see our article here which was published earlier this year.