The Ministry of Justice has indicated that the Bribery Act 2010 will not be implemented in April this year, as previously expected, but will instead come into effect three months after publication of the Government’s final guidance on putting in place “adequate procedures” for the purpose of the defence to the corporate offence.
Following a consultation on the draft guidance that ended in November last year (see our previous Law-Now), the final guidance was expected to be published in January 2011, in time to allow businesses to review their policies and procedures before April, when the offences were due to take effect. However, the Ministry of Justice (“MoJ”) has now confirmed that there will be a delay in publishing this guidance and, as a result, there will be a three month delay before the offences created by the Act come into force. According to a spokesman for the MoJ quoted by the Financial Times:
“We are working on the guidance to make it practical and comprehensive for business. When the guidance is published it will be followed by a three-month notice period before implementation of the Bribery Act."
Despite the uncertainties created by this announcement, it is highly unlikely that the text of the Bribery Act (which has been the subject of much debate in Parliament) will change. The announced delay is in fact consistent with the Government’s previous indications that they would give businesses a three month period to prepare for the offences after the guidance was published. It is unfortunate, however, that the guidance is itself delayed and that no revised time for publication has been provided. It is hoped that the MoJ will use this additional period to take account of the feedback from stakeholders during the consultation and provide businesses with firmer, more practical guidance on the key issues arising under the Act.
Click here to view the draft guidance on the MoJ’s website.