Public Law

The Bribery Act 2010 was due to come into force this April. But since we’ve entered 2011 ripples, emanating from the UK Government, have suggested a re-think.

Over the last 24 hours or so those ripples have become waves and those waves have washed an April 2011 implementation clean away.

31 January had to be another important date, if only for the fact that the Ministry of Justice had originally advised that it would publish its guidance on the corporate offence by the end of the month. You’ll remember that the corporate offence says a company can be convicted of “failing to prevent bribery” if someone “associated” with you gives a bribe.

And so, as January draws to a close, the business community at least gets a bit of news to help it through what is traditionally a difficult financial month. The CBI will certainly welcome news of this re-assessment which it has been calling for. The OECD? Well it takes a different view.

A recurring criticism of the Act is that its widely drawn and affords the authorities a great deal of discretion in deciding when to prosecute. Until now, the UK Government and SFO have said that prosecutors will exercise their discretion sensibly. Does this delay signal broader Government concerns with the scheme of the Act?

Paul Marshall

Partner at Brodies LLP
Paul leads Brodies’ Corporate Crime and Investigations team. He has more than a decade of experience conducting and managing internal investigations for clients who suspect that something has gone wrong within their business. He advises and support clients facing investigation by the police and specialist regulators
Paul Marshall