The long-awaited Bribery Bill received Royal Assent yesterday, 8 April 2010. The Bribery Act (the Act) modernises the law on bribery and is a response to heavy criticism of the existing antiquated common-law and statutory regime.

Although there was extensive debate in the Houses of Parliament, there has been little significant change to the Bill initially introduced into Parliament and the Act is virtually unchanged from the version of the Bill that we considered in our client briefing in February 2010.

To access the Act as published, please click here.

It is anticipated that the necessary secondary legislation for bringing the substantive provisions of the Bribery Act into force will be passed shortly after the general election. Although there is as yet no firm indication as to the timing on which the offences themselves will enter into force, it has previously been suggested that the corporate offence will not come into effect until October 2010 (although it is likely that the other offences will be brought into effect sooner).

As explained in our February 2010 briefing, the only defence available to the corporate offence is for the corporate to prove that it had 'adequate procedures' in place designed to prevent bribery from being committed by those performing services on its behalf. The Government has committed to publish guidance in relation to the 'adequate procedures' defence before the corporate offence comes into force. The precise timing of such guidance is still unclear but the expectation is that it will be at least three months in advance of the offence coming into effect.