According to press reports at the end of January, implementation of the Bribery Act 2010 has been delayed and it will not now come into force in April as previously announced. At the moment it is not clear when the Government will publish the final form of its guidance on adequate procedures nor when the Act will go live, though indications are that this will occur three months after publication of the guidance.
Last year the Government pushed back the introduction of the Act from autumn 2010 until April 2011 to allow businesses time to put in place suitable policies and procedures needed to mount a defence against the new corporate offence, to be introduced by the Act, of failing to prevent bribery. The Act requires the Government to publish guidance on what will constitute adequate procedures before it comes into force. It issued draft guidance for consultation in September 2010; the final guidance was scheduled to be published in January 2011 but did not appear, most likely as a result of concerns raised during the consultation process to clarify certain areas of the Act.
In the absence of an official announcement about the delay, a Ministry of Justice spokesman is reported to have said, "We are working on the guidance to make it practical and comprehensive for business. We will come forward with further details in due course. When the guidance is published it will be followed by a three-month notice period before implementation of the Act".
Commentators have suggested that it will be weeks rather than months before the final form guidance is issued, so businesses should not put dealing with anti-corruption policies and procedures on the back-burner, but instead should press ahead with ensuring that their organisations are up to speed when the Act finally goes live.