The UK Bribery Act: Be Prepared

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The long-awaited UK Bribery Act 2010 (the “Act”) is now in force. The Act drastically changes the anti-corruption regime for organisations and for directors. It creates a simplified regime to tackle anti-corruption that applies to all organisations based in the UK and overseas entities that carry out business in the UK. The penalties for non-compliance are serious. The UK government has published guidance on “adequate procedures” to prevent bribery occurring in the organisation. In this note, we discuss the main provisions of the Act and the steps organisations should take so that they are ready for the new anti-corruption regime.

Background

The previous UK anti-corruption legislation is a mixture of common and statutory law, some of which dates back to 1889. It has been criticised as being confusing and complex, with increasingly little relevance to global corruption problems. The government has also been criticised for being out of step with the international community in contrast to, for example, the US government, which brought the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”) into force in 1977. The Act aims to rationalise the existing legislation and also target overseas corruption by organisations with a connection to the UK. Although the Act does not have quite the territorial reach of the FCPA, it applies to international organisations and UK individuals and also covers private transactions, where the current UK regime does not.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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