Despite receiving Royal Assent on 8th April 2010, the Bribery Act 2010 will not be coming into force this April as anticipated.

The Act remains of great interest to employers because of the new corporate offence created under section 7. Under this section, a company can be guilty if a person who performs work for it (an employee, worker or consultant) bribes another person, either to obtain or retain business for the company, or to obtain or retain an advantage in the conduct of the company’s business. If a company is found guilty, both the company and its directors could be subjected to criminal sanctions including fines.

However, there is a possible defence for employers. Section 7 (2) provides that a company can escape liability if it can show it had “adequate procedures” in place designed to prevent such acts of bribery being committed. It is understood that one of the reasons for the delay is the late response by the Government in providing guidance on what constitutes “adequate procedures”. The Government is required to publish such guidance pursuant to its obligations under section 9 of the Act.

The Act will not come into force until 3 months after guidance has been made available. The guidance is expected to be published during spring or early summer this year and the Act is currently expected to be in force from October 2011.