Bribery Act receives Royal Assent
The Bribery Act has now received Royal Assent. The Act repeals the common law offences of bribery and creates several new offences carrying a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine for which employees, directors and commercial organisations can be liable.
The Act, which has all-major-party support, creates the new offences of: (i) bribing another person; (ii) being bribed; (iii) bribing a foreign official; (iv) a commercial organisation failing to prevent bribery. The offences will come into force at a date specified by the Secretary of State in a statutory instrument.
A bribe is where a person offers, promises or gives a financial or other advantage to another person: (i) to induce a person to perform improperly a relevant function; or (ii) to reward a person for the improper performance of such a function or activity; or (iii) where the ‘briber’ knows or believes that the acceptance of the advantage would itself constitute the improper performance of a relevant function or activity.
A commercial organisation will be guilty of an offence where a person associated with it (which includes employees or workers) bribes someone with the intention of obtaining or retaining business or an advantage in the conduct of business. A commercial organisation has a defence if it can show that it had ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent such conduct.
The Secretary of State is required to publish guidance on measures that commercial organisations can put in place to prevent bribery by persons associated with them.
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