UPDATE: The Bribery Act 2010 is now in force. Read more in our dedicated section about how this will impact your business.
Today the UK Government has issued a statement confirming a delay to the publication of guidance for businesses on the procedures that should be put in place to prevent bribery.
The UK Bribery Act 2010, includes a controversial new criminal offence for businesses which fail to prevent bribery. A defence will be to show that a business had “adequate procedures” in place to prevent bribery. The Government held a public consultation last year on draft guidance for businesses on what will constitute adequate procedures. The Government was expected to publish the final guidelines by the end of January 2011.
Today, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said:
"We are working on the guidance to make it practical and comprehensive for business. We will come forward with further details in due course... When the guidance is published it will be followed by a three month notice period before implementation of the Act."
This will ease the immediate pressure on businesses that are struggling to get their adequate procedures in place before the anticipated coming into force of the Act in April 2011. However the reprieve will be short lived. There is no suggestion from the Ministry of Justice that the Bribery Act itself is under review and we are informed that the Government is taking the time to get the guidance right so that the Act can be properly and effectively implemented.
Today's announcement demonstrates that the Government are taking note of the importance of the Bribery Act for businesses operating in the UK and in particular the importance of the guidance in interpreting the requirements of the statutory defence.
We anticipate that the delay to the publication of the "adequate procedures" guidance will be a matter of weeks rather than months and that the Act will come into force later this year.
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