The U.K. Bribery Act 2010 (the "Act") represents a fundamental reform of the U.K. anti-bribery regime and greatly expands the potential legal exposure of companies and individuals that do business, including practice of a trade or profession, in the U.K. For example, it criminalizes purely private bribery with no involvement of a government official and creates a new corporate offence of "failing to prevent" bribery. These offences are subject to unlimited fines and a 10-year maximum prison sentence for individuals. The Act bears some similarity to its U.S. counter-part, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ("FCPA"), but is in general stricter and broader. Accordingly, companies with business operations in the U.K. must not assume that even robust FCPA compliance programs will assure compliance with the requirements of the Act.
The Act creates offences that cover a variety of situations and, in some instances, appear to create a form of strict liability. The provisions of each section of the Act are discussed briefly below.
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