Looking back at our original blog and subsequent update on the Bribery Bill, you may be forgiven for wondering when on earth the promised guidance from the Government will be published. The Ministry of Justice consulted on the draft guidance between September and 8 November last year. Because of the delayed publication of that guidance the planned implementation of the Bribery Act was postponed to April 2011. 31 January 2011 was set as the new deadline for the publication of the guidance, but the Government has not met this target either.
Whilst it is not yet clear when the guidance will be published, it is understood that the Government will allow a period of at least three months between publication of the guidance and the implementation of the Act. This means that the Act will not be brought into force in April as planned.
To get ahead of the game, some organisations are pressing ahead with changes in practices, procedures and internal regulation regardless of the guidance not being in its final form.
However, for many businesses and certainly the vast majority of UK property-related operations, it is the grey areas that still cause concern, such as when generous corporate hospitality could amount to bribery. For these, it is hoped the guidance will be made more specific in order that there is certainty as to what is not in breach of the Act.
The Government has come under some pressure to water down the Act from businesses and organisations concerned about the impact that it may have. As Government has international obligations to implement legislation to tackle the issues covered by the Act, we do not think radical change is likely.
We will post updates when there is more news.