The Bribery Act 2010 has been brought into force from 1 July 2011.
The Act repeals the existing legislation relating to bribery and creates four new offences:
- an offence of active bribery (i.e. giving, promising or offering a bribe), which applies in the public or private sector;
- an offence of passive bribery (i.e. requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting a bribe), which applies in the public or private sector;
- a specific offence of bribing a foreign public official; and
- a new 'corporate' offence which applies where a corporate or partnership fails to prevent those performing services on their behalf from paying bribes. The only defence to this offence is to show that an organisation had in place "adequate procedures" to prevent such bribery. The Ministry of Justice has published guidance on what amounts to "adequate procedures" for the purposes of the Act. The Guidance provides principles-based guidance to assist organisations in establishing adequate anti-bribery procedures.
The Serious Fraud Office and Director of Public Prosecutions have also published joint prosecution guidance on the Act. It contains guidance for prosecutors on when to commence prosecutions under the Act and lists factors which will be relevant when a prosecutor is considering whether bringing an action is in the public interest.