The UK Bribery Act will come into force on 1 July 2011. The Act has potential implications for Irish companies and partnerships carrying on business in the UK. Last week a commencement order was published in the UK confirming that on 1 July, those provisions of the Bribery Act 2010 which were not brought into force on Royal Assent will come into force.

The Act contains two general offences covering the offering, promising or giving of a bribe (active bribery) and the requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting of a bribe (passive bribery). It also sets out two further offences which specifically address commercial bribery. Section 6 of the Act creates an offence relating to bribery of a foreign public official in order to obtain or retain business or an advantage in the conduct of business.

Section 7 of the Act makes companies and partnerships strictly liable for their failure to prevent bribes being paid on their behalf. Significantly, this offence applies not only to UK incorporated companies, but also to companies which carry on a business, or part of a business, in the UK. This means that an Irish company or partnership, which carries on business in the UK, could be liable in the UK for bribery committed by any employee or person who performs services on the company's behalf, anywhere in the world. It will be a defence for a company or partnership to prove that it had adequate anti-corruption procedures or systems in place and last week the Ministry of Justice in the UK published guidance setting out procedures which companies can follow to prevent persons associated with them from being engaged in bribery. This guidance replaces the draft guidance published in September 2010.

Recently, Guidance Notes were issued on the Act to assist companies and organisations in preparing for the Act. The guidance consists of a framework of six principles that are designed to assist companies to put "robust and effective" anti-bribery procedures in place. The principles are "proportionate procedures; top level commitment; risk assessment; due diligence; communication and monitoring and review".

Please click here for Guidance Note.