In response to a written question from Pauline Latham MP, Damian Green, Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice, confirmed at a Commons debate on 2 September 2013 that his Department is not planning to review the Bribery Act 2010 (“the Act”). Mr Green added that the Ministry of Justice is currently working with the Department of Business Innovation and Skills to ensure that smaller businesses understand how the Act and associated guidance applies to their enterprises.
As we reported in our article of June 2013, it would not make sense for the Government to launch a review into the Act before it has been given time to bed in. In light of the recent announcement that the first charges have been brought under the Bribery Act, it would not be the right time to review the effect of the legislation. We agree that a programme of education is the best way forward; if small to medium-sized businesses, for example, are calling for more clarification, then perhaps even some form of further guidance addressing specific concerns on the scope of ‘adequate procedures’ might be helpful to help them better understand the extent of the requirements under the Act and the Ministry of Justice Guidance. However, for those companies conducting business in the UK, including SMEs, it will be no excuse for businesses to have failed to implement proportionate measures to combat bribery because they do not understand their obligations. So ignorance is not bliss and companies need to try to engage with the reality of their duties under the Act, if they have not done so yet. Hoping for a change to the Bribery Act is not the answer.