The Bribery Act will come into effect on 1 July 2011.

It will:

  1. Introduce a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business. A business can avoid conviction if it can show that it has “adequate procedures” in place to prevent bribery.
  2. Make it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe either at home or abroad. The measures cover bribery in all contexts, private and public.
  3. Increase the maximum penalty for bribery from seven to 10 years imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.

DMH Stallard welcomes the publication (on 30 March 2011) of the Ministry of Justice Guidance on the principles which "adequate procedures" must follow and the accompanying "Quick Start Guide" aimed at providing SMEs with helpful examples, including problem scenarios such as entertainment and facilitation payments. Prosecutorial guidelines for enforcement of the Act were simultaneously published, jointly by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Serious Fraud Office.