Companies and other corporate bodies operating in Ireland will risk criminal liability if they do not have adequate anti-corruption policies and procedures in place, once proposed anti-corruption legislation becomes law.

In a radical overhaul of anti-corruption law in Ireland, the Irish Government recently published the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill 2017. One of several measures in the Government's new White Collar Crime Package, the legislation introduces new offences and stricter penalties.

The Bill repeals and replaces previous legislation on anti-corruption and bribery (the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889 to 2010), consolidating Irish law on corruption into a single piece of legislation.

While the Bill is in the early stages of the legislative process, now is the opportune time for organisations to put in place anti-corruption polices or to review policies already in place. These policies and procedures may prove essential in the event of a prosecution for a corruption offence and will form part of the defence that the company took all due diligence and all reasonable steps to avoid the commission of the offence.