The UK's Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke announced on 30 March 2011 that the new UK Bribery Act will take effect on 1 July 2011. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) also issued its final guidance on how a company should comply with the new legislation. At the same time, joint prosecutorial guidance was issued indicating who should feel the full weight of the legislation. The documents are lengthy. The MoJ's guidance stretches to 45 pages, with the prosecutors' guidance a further 12 pages. While much of the concentration has been on the MoJ guidelines, it is likely that the prosecutors' guidelines may have the most lasting significance.
The MoJ published draft guidance last year that was open to consultation until 8 November 2010. Duane Morris and a number of other interested organizations made representations to the MoJ as part of that consultation process, and the final guidance was due to be published in January. It was delayed while the government responded to criticisms of the draft guidance, but in light of at least one freedom-of-information request and disapproval from campaign groups, the go-live date has now been set.
In general, the new guidance tempers some of the directives given in the earlier draft. It also offers a little more comfort than before to those engaged in international business.
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