International - Written by Barry & Richard on Sunday, January 30, 2011 15:20 - 1 Comment
UPDATED 4.45PM: SFO COMMENT: BREAKING: Reports that Bribery Act to be subject to delay & implemented 3 months from guidance publication
Stories are beginning to circulate this evening, reportedly that BBC News has learnt, that The implementation of the Bribery Act is to be subject to further delay while the guidance around the defence of Adequate Procedures is finalised.
It is reported that the new law will enter into force three months from the date of publication of the guidance.
UPDATE: BBC today this morning (January 31) confirmed that the Bribery Act is delayed as is the guidance which was expected to be published today.
UPDATE: UPDATE: 4.45PM January 31: We have just spoken to Richard Alderman of the SFO for his comment on the delay. Mr. Alderman told us these issues [around the delay of implemantation of the new law] are for government and parliament to resolve. He made clear that the SFO strongly supports the new Act and said that the SFO looks forward to contributing to the guidance so that the new Bribery Act can come into force.
Mr. Alderman went onto emphasise that the SFO intends to use the new law to create a level playing field for corporates and that it while it expected corporates to adopt a zero tolerance policy the SFO is very sympathetic to the difficulties they face. In particular Mr. Alderman said that it strongly supported ethical UK corporates and was concerned that without the new law in force while it was subject to delay ethical UK corporates were being disadvantaged.
We anticipate that the guidance will be published in the next few weeks.
Commentators have long assumed that there would be a three month gap between publication of the guidance and the entry into force of the new law. On that basis this delay is consistent with what we learnt from government sources last week.
When we spoke to sources at the Ministry of Justice before Christmas we were told that the guidance was all but finalised but that ministerial sign off would be required. Any delay in the publication is likely the result of the recent campaign in the media to clarify certain areas of the Bribery Act.
We anticipate that the campaign is unlikely to bring about material changes to the law itself and that any clarifications are likely to be dealt with in guidance. We expect that this is the basis for the delay. As we have repeatedly said we do not anticipate that the law itself will change and as we said a couple of weeks ago (in our Article ‘the Bribery Act and the Review by No. 10. Will pigs fly? We don’t think so’ we do not anticipate that the so-called Growth Review will herald material change to the law.
On the contrary reports that the new law’s entry into force is delayed pending the clarification of the guidance supports this view.
Campaigners who have worked hard in the last few weeks to stop the new law dead in its tracks should not get the bunting out and have a party just yet.
We anticipate that the guidance will be published within weeks. Not months.
Businesses should continue to prepare for the new law. We are reliably informed it is not if but when.