International - Written by on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 5:25 - 0 Comments

Bribery Act in force in September

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At a CBI  breakfast meeting we attended this morning Lord McNally, Minister of State and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, spoke about the Bribery Act.  He would not be drawn on the timing of the publication of the guidance.  However, he told CBI members present that it was imminent and that the Act would be in force in September.

We still anticipate that guidance will be published tomorrow with the entry into force of the new law deferred until September 1st to defuse any suggestion that implementation time was cut short because of the July and August summer holidays.

If you want to hear the SFO’s and our reaction to the guidance then sign up to our webinar with Vivian Robinson SFO GC tomorrow at 5pm London.

Responding to critics who have said that the new law will be burdensome for organisations to comply with Lord McNally said compliance procedures proportionate to risk would be key and it was “largely about common sense” not costly procedures. The new guidance “clarified and amplified the guidance to make this clear” and he added that “modest risks will require modest procedures”.  Our expectation is that the new guidance will depart from last year’s draft by endorsing a risk based approach.

Bribery he said was a “moral question” the essence of which was: are you attempting to subborn someone’s judgement?

Dealing with hospitality he confirmed that corporate hospitality during the London season would not be outlawed though he noted that corporate hospitality could be used unethically and organisations would need to watch for this.

He said that government hoped the guidance would provide certainty for companies and deal with concerns that they would not know what to do pending test cases on the Bribery Act.

We expect the final guidance will be a significant improvement on the consultation draft and answer some of the burning questions, on corporate hospitality, facilitation payments, liability for third parties and other hot topics.

Guidance is also to be published specifically for SME’s and we expect that the prosecutorial guidance will follow hot on the heels of the government guidance.

Image © Crown Copyright 2011

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