Under S7 of the Bribery Act 2010 it is a defence to a charge against an organisation of failing to prevent bribery if the organisation can show it had adequate procedures designed to prevent persons associated with the organisation from undertaking such conduct. Under S9 of the Act the Secretary of State must publish guidance about procedures that relevant commercial organisations can put in place to prevent persons associated with them from engaging in bribery.
The Minister of Justice yesterday stated in response to written parliamentary questions (made public today) that there will be a delay to both publishing the guidance and full implementation of the Act. He would not comment on how long that delay might be. Mr Clarke stated that he wanted to make sure the guidance was practical and useful for legitimate business and trade and that it would be published once he was confident that it addressed the legitimate concerns of all those who took part in the consultation process. Helpfully Mr Clarke stated that he was determined to ensure that the Act was implemented in a way which tackles corruption but does not impose unnecessary cost and uncertainty on legitimate business and trade.
Mr Clarke also stated that the Ministry of Justice's guidance would be published alongside joint prosecution guidance issued by the Director of the Serious Fraud Office and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
In addition Mr Clarke confirmed that the Act would only be implemented in full three months after the guidance had been published. Which leaves open the question of whether there may be staged implementation. Watch this space!