How effective is the Bribery Act? Fieldfisher's submission to the House of Lords select committee is published
Seven years after the Bribery Act 2010 ("Act") came into force a House of Lords select committee (HLSC) has been tasked with examining its effectiveness and impact. Under the Act, as well as the offences of offering or giving and requesting or receiving bribes, the offence of bribing foreign public officials and a strict liability corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery were established. The Act is an extremely wide reaching and stringent piece of legislation. It applies to any business with a UK connection and to all UK citizens, wherever in the world the bribery takes place.
The HLSC opened a call for evidence in June and has heard from the Government, anti-corruption NGOs, trade experts and, most recently, the defence, aerospace and construction sectors. As the HLSC is considering the impact of the Act on business and whether the guidance could be improved, using our knowledge obtained from assisting numerous businesses with compliance and issue management, on 26 July 2018 we made written submissions. These set out many of the failings of the current guidance (such as the lack of clarity regarding which businesses fall within the Act's jurisdiction and who is considered an associated person) and the challenges facing business in implementing and monitoring compliance with adequate procedures (particularly in relation to those over which it exerts little or no control). We have also made recommendations to the HLSC to amend the guidance to clarify the key concepts and provide more practical help to business. This is because, in our view, much of the burden on business has been caused by uncertainty about what procedures need to be put in place to take advantage of the defence of adequate procedures. Business has naturally taken a cautious approach to this which has resulted in the tying up of management time and increased cost which could be avoided with clearer guidance.
A more detailed summary of the submissions made and reasons for making them can be seen here.