Clare Kennedy and Alison Ritchie, PwC Forensic Services, gave presentations on the key changes in the Bribery Act 2010, including those which came into force on 1 July 2011, and will discuss the implications for public authorities.
The purpose of the Act is to reform the criminal law of bribery to provide for a new consolidated scheme of bribery offences to cover bribery both in the United Kingdom (UK) and abroad.
The Act replaces offences at common law and those covered by the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889 to 1916 with two general offences.
The first covers the offering, promising or giving of an advantage(broadly, offences of bribing another person).
The second deals with the requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting of an advantage (broadly, offences of being bribed). The formulation of these two offences abandons the agent/principal relationship on which the previous law was based in favour of a model based on an intention to induce improper conduct.
The Act also creates a discrete offence of bribery of a foreign public official and a new offence where a commercial organisation fails to prevent bribery.
The Bribery Act represents a significant change to UK law and seeks to enhance the UK's anti-bribery legislation, which was seen as antiquated and fragmented. The Act replaces previous offences with general, active and passive bribery offences. In August 2011 a court clerk became the first person convicted under the Act for taking a bribe while working at an east London court. The Bribery Act enables prosecutors to focus on the bribery element rather than general misconduct behaviour.
The Act also introduces a specific 'corporate' offence of failing to prevent bribery (which is applicable to public sector organisations as well companies). Recent indications are that corporate and individual failures to take action to prevent bribery will meet a tough response.
Questions that you need to answer about your own organisation's readiness are:
Key Points Bulletin: a bulletin summarising key points to come out of the Belfast briefings on the Bribery Act can be found here.
You might also like to review PwC's "Complete Guide to the UK Bribery Act"?