Bribery Act 2010: consultation launches on guidance for businesses

The Government has begun consultation on its guidance on the procedures that commercial companies should put in place to prevent bribery.

The Bribery Act 2010, which comes in to force next April, introduces a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by anyone working on behalf of a business.

If it is proved that a bribe was paid on a company’s behalf with the intention to obtain or retain business the company will be liable.

Companies and directors that are found guilty of corporate bribery could be subject to criminal sanctions, including fines. However, a company will be able to avoid conviction if they have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.

The legislation was originally meant to come into force in October, but was postponed for six months. In July, Personnel Today reported that the Government’s decision to delay the introduction of the Bribery Act had been described as “extremely disappointing” by anti-corruption campaigners.

The Act provides for four bribery offences:

  • Bribing – the offering, promising or giving of an advantage.
  • Being bribed – requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting an advantage.
  • Bribing a foreign public official.
  • The “corporate offence”, where a commercial organisation fails to prevent persons performing services on its behalf from committing bribery.

The Bribery Act 2010 will not change the disciplinary process that would need to be followed to investigate any alleged act of corruption before a disciplinary sanction is imposed, so if bribery takes place the company should follow its own procedure or fall back on the Acas code on disciplinary and grievance procedures.

The guidance, which the Government is obliged to provide under the Bribery Act 2010, will be published early next year. The consultation runs until 8 November.

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