The Only Defense: Adequate Procedures under the UK Bribery Bill

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There is one affirmative defense listed in the Bribery Bill. This is the ‘adequate procedures’ defense. The Explanatory Notes to the Bribery Bill indicate that this narrow defense would allow a corporation to put forward credible evidence that it had adequate procedures in place to prevent persons associated from committing bribery offences. Although not explicit on the face of the Bill, in accordance with established case law, the standard of proof the defendant would need to discharge is the balance of probabilities. The legislation requires Secretary of State to publish guidance on procedures that relevant commercial organizations can put in place to prevent bribery by persons associated with their entity.

Other than this commentary, the Bill provides no further information on what might constitute ‘adequate procedures’ as a defense but the Government has signaled that it will work with the UK business community to provide appropriate guidance to this critical component of the Bribery Bill. The UK law firm KattenMuchin has indicated that they expect the Government will apply a test regarding the ‘adequate procedures’ defense “with regard to the size of the company, its business sector and the degree to which it operates in high risk markets.”

While it might only give general guidance, the United States Department of Justice has published its Sentencing Guidelines which provide a framework to construct an ethics and compliance program which will meet the strictures of the FCPA. Using the Sentencing Guidelines, Richard Cassin has written about an effective compliance program, in his excellent FCPABlog. He notes that the purpose of an “effective compliance program” is to prevent and detect criminal conduct. This article will review what constitutes an effective FCPA compliance program under the Sentencing Guidelines.

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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.

© Thomas Fox, Compliance Evangelist | Attorney Advertising

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