The Act was enacted on 8 April 2010 and came into force on 1 July 2011, it was expected to come into force by the end of 2010.  However, on 20 July 2010, the Lord Chancellor announced that the implementation of the Act would be delayed until April 2011 to allow for further consultation on the “adequate procedures” defence and the publication of the “adequate procedures” guidance (due under section 9) at the end of January 2011.

On 31 January 2011, the Ministry of Justice (“MoJ”) announced that the Act was being reviewed as part of the government’s “growth review” of legislation.  The Act received a significant amount of press coverage and the MoJ came under considerable pressure to consider how it might affect British companies, especially in difficult financial times.  Publication of the guidance was further delayed as the MoJ was “working on the guidance to make it practical and comprehensive for business.”

On 30 March 2011 the MoJ published the final form adequate procedures guidance (“the Guidance”) required by section 9 of the Act.  The SFO and DPP have also published joint prosecution guidance which addresses how they will respond to requests for prosecutions (“the Prosecution Guidance”). However, despite the delays in implementing the Act and the publication of the Guidance, the wording of the Act has not been changed.

The Act has sent a very strong signal that the UK is now positioning itself at the head of the global anti-corruption drive.  It is wider in scope than the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, compliance with which was previously considered to be the benchmark for anti-corruption corporate good practice.  The Act, however, looks like it will re-write the good practice checklist in its own terms.

Although the Act appears to give prosecutors not just teeth, but a predator’s jaw, it has been carefully worded and is not, necessarily, intended to bulldoze through corporates Business Development Plans and general operational strategy.  Bird & Bird is very well positioned to provide you with clear and concise advice on how best to respond to the legislation in your own specific circumstances and ensure a balance between due compliance with the law and continuing commercial operations.

Did you know..?

...less than 2 years ago the UK was “sharply criticised” by the OECD for failing to bring its anti-corruption laws into line with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention , even though the UK had ratified the Convention in 1998

...the Bribery Act 2010 will provide a complete overhaul of the UK’s legislative approach to bribery and corruption and will implement what many perceive to be the toughest piece of anti-bribery legislation in the world

...the UK’s ‘modern’ approach to bribery and corruption did not start off badly.  In fact, it started early and relatively aggressively.  As early as 1889, legislation was enacted to address corrupt practices that were considered to be widespread in the Metropolitan Board of Works