The Guidance is aimed at commercial organizations of all sizes and sectors; it seeks to help them understand what sorts of procedures they can put in place to prevent bribery.
This morning, the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, announced the publication of the Guidance and confirmed that the Bribery Act will come into force on 1 July 2011. Mr. Clarke explained that the delay in its publication had enabled him to listen to business groups to make sure the legislation was implemented in a “workable, common sense” way:
“Some have asked whether business can afford this legislation – especially at a time of economic recovery. But the choice is a false one. We don’t have to decide between tackling corruption and supporting growth. Addressing bribery is good for business because it creates the conditions for free markets to flourish.”
In a press release by the Confederation of British Industry (“CBI”), Katja Hall, the CBI’s Chief Policy Director, confirmed that its members strongly support the principles behind the Bribery Act and welcomed the much-improved final guidance:
“The Government has listened to concerns that honest companies could have been unwittingly caught out by poorly-drafted legislation and has clarified a number of important areas. These include the extent of liability through the supply chain, joint ventures, due diligence and corporate hospitality. Businesses now need to use the next three months to revise their anti-bribery policies ready for the Act’s implementation.
Meanwhile, the Serious Fraud Office must take a common-sense approach to enforcement, ensuring it is reasonable and risk-based. This will help avoid creating a culture of fear that could undermine UK competitiveness.”
We, at the Bribery Library, will be commenting further on the details of the Guidance, and its implications for companies (whether based in the UK or overseas), in the coming days and weeks. In the first instance, we will be publishing a short briefing note later today.
Image © Crown Copyright 2011