The New UK Regime on Bribery: An Introduction

May 2010

A fundamental change in the UK law on bribery will occur later this year, when the Bribery Act 2010 (the Act) is expected to come into effect. The Act has far-reaching implications, not just for UK-based entities, but also for many international corporations, given its potentially wide territorial application.

While such corporations will need to be generally aware of the new regime, they should in particular take notice of the new offence created by section 7 of the Act. Under this section, a commercial organisation will commit a criminal offence if a person associated with such an organisation bribes another person with the intention of benefiting the organisation. This is a strict liability offence. However, the Act provides a defence for an organisation if it can show that it had in place “adequate procedures” to prevent such bribery taking place. In essence, the UK is now mandating the kinds of FCPA compliance programs that U.S. corporations have implemented over the last decade.

Given the wide scope of the offences as set out in the Act and its extensive territorial reach, corporations need to take steps now to ensure that they are fully prepared for the new regime.

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