30th March 2011
It has today been announced that the Bribery Act will come into force on 1 July 2011.
The Justice Secretary has also published guidance to businesses on understanding the Bribery Act and ways to minimise their exposure to bribery, which can be found here. The Justice Secretary has published both full guidance and “quickstart” advice aimed at small businesses.
The Justice Secretary’s announcement emphasised that “combating bribery is about common sense, not bureaucracy” and that reasonable hospitality to meet, network and improve relationships with customers is a normal part of business that will not be caught by the Bribery Act. The announcement makes it clear that “no one is going to try to stop businesses getting to know their clients by taking them to events like Wimbledon, Twickenham or the Grand Prix”, which commentators and press reports have previously suggested may be caught by the Bribery Act.
It is indicated that bribery prosecutions will only be brought where it is in the public interest to do so and that large numbers of prosecutions are not expected.
Apparently it is not foreseen that businesses will need to spend large amounts of money on policies and procedures. The ultimate aim of the legislation being “to make life difficult for the minority of organisations responsible for corruption, not to burden the vast majority of decent and law-abiding businesses”.
What will happen in practice remains to be seen and ultimately until there is case law, businesses would be ill advised to ignore the Bribery Act and should implement procedures to ensure they are protected.
If you require any guidance on the Bribery Act and what it will mean for your business please contact a member of the Employment Practice.
Should you have any queries please contact: