The news last week from the U.K. that the Bribery Bill had become the Bribery Act seemed important. But we didn’t understand why it still wasn’t law.
So we asked London lawyer Kelly Hagedorn about it. Here’s what she said:
Dear FCPA Blog,
The U.K.’s Bribery Act received Royal Assent on April 8 and passed onto the statute book.
Britain’s been trying to pass a new law to deal with overseas bribery and corruption for a long time — the predecessor Corruption Bill went back and forth between the Houses of Commons and Lords several times before final rejection in 2003. The Bribery Act nearly ended up with the same fate.
The General Election, however, was called on April 6, requiring Parliament to be dissolved on April 12. That left less than a week for “wash up” — a process whereby the Government seeks to rush through unfinished legislative business before dissolution. It worked.
But the law isn’t yet in force. The statutory instruments needed to implement the Act still have to be released. The “general offences” part should come into force in June 2010. The corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery (section 7) should come into force in October 2010, after the Government issues guidance on “adequate procedures” by July 2010.
The Bribery Act has a broader scope than the FCPA and a wide reach, particularly for the offence of failing to prevent corruption within an organisation. This applies to organisations incorporated anywhere, if they undertake a business or part of a business in the U.K. The defence to this charge is that the organisation had “adequate procedures” in place to attempt to prevent bribery.
Companies should start preparing now, if they haven’t already, for implementation of the Bribery Act.
More about the Bribery Act can be found here.