2010 Bribery Act: Commercial Applicability


The Bribery Act 2010 (Act), heralded as the toughest anti-corruption legislation in the world, comes into force today in the United Kingdom. The Act is designed to address global bribery and to modernise the UK’s outdated, piecemeal anti-bribery legislation. The Act will be enforced against firms and individuals irrespective of where breaches are committed globally. One of the key features of the Act is the introduction of a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery. All organisations need to enhance their anti-bribery culture, and implement effective anti-bribery systems internationally, in order to prevent liability.

Under the Act, organisations, and consenting “senior officers” (including directors, managers and company secretaries) can be liable for offering or receiving bribes. In addition, the Act makes organisations directly liable for “bribery committed” on its behalf by any “associated” person anywhere in the world. Anyone that provides services on behalf of the organisation (inter alia employees, agents, distributors and subsidiaries) constitute “associated persons”. Penalties are severe; unlimited fines and potential disbarment from public contracts, along with the connected reputational damage. The only available defence is proving that “adequate procedures” were in place to prevent bribery occurring.

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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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