Bribery in Britain

The British government is working on a new Bribery Bill “to reform the criminal law of bribery to provide for a new consolidated scheme of bribery offenses to cover bribery both in the United Kingdom (UK) and abroad.”

The Bribery Bill would replaces the offenses under the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889, the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 and the Prevention of Corruption Act 1916 with two crimes. The first makes it a crime to bribe another person. The second makes it a crime to accept a bribe.

The Bribery Bill also creates a discrete offense of bribery of a foreign public official and a new offense where a commercial organization fails to prevent bribery. This would create a British version of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and and bring the United Kingdom compliant with its obligations under the OECD.

There is an affirmative defense for the failure of a commercial organization to prevent bribery: “adequate procedures.” The Bribery Bill requires the Secretary of State to publish guidance about procedures that a company can put in place to prevent bribery.

The Bribery Bill is widely expected to come into force later this year.

According to research from the Eversheds, many businesses are unaware of this new Bribery Bill, with 60% of businesses unaware that failing to prevent bribery will be a criminal offense.


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