The Bribery Act 2010 is due to come into force in April 2011, with significant implications for organisations incorporated or formed in the UK.
It also affects those carrying out their business or part of their business in the UK wherever in the world they were incorporated or formed.
The Act goes much further than the existing legislation and similar foreign legislation, such as the US Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act.
It incorporates both public sector and private sector bribery, and creates a new corporate offence whereby a commercial organisation will be liable to prosecution if a person associated with it bribes another person intending to obtain or retain business or an advantage in the conduct of business for that organisation.
The only defence available to an organisation is that they are able to prove they had in place adequate procedures designed to prevent persons associated with the organisation from bribing on its behalf. The legal burden of proving that defence falls upon the organisation.
The legislation requires the Government to publish guidance about procedures that commercial organisations can put in place. A consultation document was published on 14 September: www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/briberyactconsultation.htm
For additional information go to Shoosmiths website: myinfo.shoosmiths.co.uk/