As we mentioned in the April edition of Bite Size, the Bribery Act comes into force on the 1 July 2011. But what does this mean for your business?

Broadly, the Act contains four separate offences:

  • offering, promising or giving a bribe
  • requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting a bribe
  • bribing a foreign public official
  • the failure of a commercial organisation to prevent the offering of or giving of bribes

The Act potentially criminalises a broad range of business related behaviour and it is intended to cover more than just cash payments in brown paper envelopes, for example lavish corporate hospitality. Penalties under the Act are severe and include an unlimited fine or up to ten years imprisonment.

A commercial organisation will have a defence if it can show that it had ‘adequate procedures’ in place designed to prevent bribery

Guidance to the Act can be found at www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/docs/bribery-act-2010-guidance.pdf.