In the last desperate push to get legislation through before Parliament was dissolved, the Bribery Bill finally made it past the post. It now sits on the statute books, waiting to be enacted at the beginning of the next Parliament.
In the end the majority of proposed amendments were dropped, the only major change being a requirement that before proceedings are brought under the Bribery Act, approval must be given by one of the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Director of Revenue and Customs Prosecutions. Whilst the scope of the Bribery Act means it will apply to all, it was highlighted by Jonathan Djanogly MP (Conservative) that it is expected there will only be 20 or so prosecutions a year. This suggests that there is either a high evidential burden for prosecutions to be brought, or that only the more serious transgressions or those with a real public interest will be pursued.
Jonathan Djanogly MP also stated to Parliament that if a Conservative government is elected, it will look to create a business advisory service to help businesses understand the implications of the Bribery Act and in particular distinguishing between legitimate activity and taking / giving bribes.
It is important that companies now complete their anti-bribery policies, to maximise the likelihood of being able to claim an 'adequate procedures' defence.
We have recently updated our briefing on the Bribery Act,which can be found here. If you wish to discuss any of the issues in this blog, please contact Matthew Hattersley on 0113 336 3351 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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