The Bribery Act 2010, which comes into force today, creates several new offences carrying a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine for which employees, directors and commercial organisations can be liable. However, adequate anti-bribery procedures will enable organisations to rely on a statutory defence to a charge of failing to prevent bribery.
The main Guidance produced to accompany the Act is designed to help commercial organisations adopt procedures appropriate to their size and business environment to prevent persons associated with them (e.g. their agents at home or abroad) committing acts of bribery and thereby reduce their exposure to prosecution under the Act. There is also a useful Quick Start Guide, aimed specifically at SMEs.
We have produced a bulletin giving more information on the Act which is available here.
However, businesses may be relieved to learn that Ken Clarke does not anticipate a large number of prosecutions, and certainly not for trivial cases.