The U.K. Ministry of Justice has indicated that the Bribery Act of 2010 will not enter into force in April 2011, as previously planned.1 This marks a further delay in the implementation of the controversial new law, which punishes not only bribery itself but also the failure of companies to prevent bribery.
The Ministry’s first decision to delay implementation of the Act occurred in July 2010, with the announcement that it would first issue draft guidance about the law and permit time for public comment.2 In September the Ministry issued its draft guidelines, consisting primarily of six principles intended to identify and reduce bribery risks, and announced an eight-week public consultation period that would run until November 8. The Ministry stated that it expected to publish final guidance in early 2011.3
On January 31, 2011, the Ministry indicated that its final guidance would not be immediately forthcoming, and instead announced an extension of its consultation with the public.4 According to a spokesman, the Ministry is “working on the guidance to make it practical and comprehensive for business.” The Ministry did not indicate when its final guidance would be released, but did state that publication would be “followed by a three-month notice period before implementation of the Act.”5 According to this revised timeline, the Act will not enter into force until May 2011 at the earliest.
The decision to delay implementation of the Act follows the Ministry’s announcement on January 20 that the Act was being reassessed as part of the Government’s “Growth Review.”6 This government-wide effort is designed to “identify the obstacles for investment and help the country’s economy grow.” However, the extent of any possible revisions to the Act is unclear, as the Ministry has reaffirmed that “corruption should not be considered an acceptable way to win business and the UK stands alongside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, all of whom have criminalised foreign bribery.”7