UK regulators are reviewing the interplay of EU procurement directives and the recently-enacted Bribery Act 2010 in an effort to reduce the risk of debarment from public contracts following certain corporate violations of the new law. Under EU procurement rules, companies convicted of an offense concerning professional misconduct, which would include bribery, are banned from bidding on large public contracts. For some companies, this type of debarment could be hugely damaging if not fatal.
UK Ministry of Justice officials are considering amendments to the regulations implementing the EU directives to reflect the fact that corporations can violate the Bribery Act’s new corporate strict liability offense due to a failure to implement adequate procedures to prevent bribery, without having intended to commit or facilitate the underlying bribery.
The Ministry of Justice has committed to clarifying when debarment may be triggered prior to the April 2011 effective date of the Bribery Act.