Background 

The House of Lords has appointed an ad hoc Select Committee to consider and report on the Bribery Act 2010 (the "UKBA"). The Committee will examine the effectiveness of the UKBA and whether there has been stricter prosecution of corrupt conduct, a higher conviction rate or a reduction in corruption. When announcing the Committee, its Chairman, Lord Saville of Newdigate, also noted that there is particular "confusion and uncertainty" about the UKBA among small and medium enterprises ("SMEs"). Accordingly, the inquiry will also seek to raise awareness and understanding of the UKBA.

In addition to holding public and private evidence sessions, the Committee has published a call for evidence. Baker McKenzie will be making written submissions to the Committee based on our own experiences of the UKBA and we invite all of our clients to contribute to our submissions. The deadline for filing submissions is 31 July 2018.

The Committee will be taking evidence throughout the summer and autumn of 2018, and will report in early 2019.

First public hearings of the Committee

The Committee held the first public evidence session on 3 July 2018. During the session, the Committee heard evidence from Nicola Hewer, Director of Family and Criminal Justice Policy for the Ministry of Justice, and Michelle Crotty, Director/Deputy Head of Office for the Attorney General's Office. The Committee held the second public evidence session on 10 July 2018. During that session, the Committee heard evidence from John Penrose MP, the Government's Anti-Corruption Champion.

Issues discussed during the public sessions held to date include:

  • The lack of prosecutions under s.6 of the UKBA (Bribery of Foreign Public Officials).
  • The length of time taken to investigate UKBA offences (on average, SFO investigations currently span 4.5 years).
  • Facilitation payments and whether the prohibition of them is unworkable.
  • The level of guidance available to companies, particularly SMEs.
  • The impact of the UKBA on SMEs.
  • The impact of Deferred Prosecution Agreements.
  • Whistleblowers and protection of whistleblowers.

Call for evidence

The Committee is currently seeking submissions of written evidence from any person, organisation or business with experience of the UKBA. Baker McKenzie will be submitting a response and we welcome feedback from our clients on how the UKBA is operating for you in practice. Key areas of potential interest may include:

  1. Is the UKBA deterring bribery in the UK and abroad?
  2. Is the UKBA being adequately enforced?
  3. Is the UKBA clearly understood?
  4. How have businesses sought to implement compliance programs, which address the Ministry of Justice guidance on the UKBA?
  5. What impact has the UKBA had on SMEs?
  6. Is the UKBA having unintended consequences?
  7. Thoughts on Deferred Prosecution Agreements.
  8. How does the UKBA compare with anti-corruption legislation in other countries and does this impact UK businesses operating abroad?