The Bribery Bill mentioned in the Queen's Speech

Let's hope the Bribery Bill becomes law before the election.

The existing law relating to bribery and corruption is a hotch-potch of antiquated legislation: The Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889, The Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 and The Prevention of Corruption Act 1916 are the key statutes.  All three are due to be repealed and replaced by up to date legislation to be contained in the new Bill.

The updating of the law in this area has been under active consideration since 1995 and there have been Law Commission reports and a couple of draft Bills in the intervening years.

Hopefully a consensus has now been reached and the new Bill will move reasonably swiftly to Royal Assent next year.

There will be four major classes of offence under the new Bill: offering / paying a bribe; accepting / agreeing to a bribe; bribing a foreign official; and (for a commercial organisation) negligently failing to prevent the paying of a bribe.

Maximum penalties are expected to be: for a commercial organisation - an unlimited fine; for an individual - 10 years imprisonment.

David

Comments

bribery bill

georgeford | | Permalink

 Hi there, 

Confused and dazed watching Queen's speech. 

Seems it wasn't 'entirely' illegal to bribe someone. 

Guess this is a hangover from the SFO being issued a 'stop investigating' order regarding Saudi. 

Still, where bribes 'acceptable' they become counter productive as with everyone bidding and bribing the price lifts when taken as a 'bid price + bribe cost = less profit than a fair system.'

Hey ho, my cynical bone is repaired. 

Cheers 

George

George

davidwinch's picture

The existing law

davidwinch | | Permalink

The existing law is a bit of a muddle.

Originally legislation was brought it to outlaw the bribing of public servants.  Then 'new' law was added (early last century) covering the bribing of an agent (but that law approaches bribery from a somewhat different direction - partially inconsistent with the law relating to public servants).

But our law has never really got to grips with bribing the customer (especially an overseas customer).

And our law has not moved with the times (despite us having accepted international obligations to bring in proper bribery laws).

So this is an area of law very much in need of Parliamentary attention.

David

bribery

Anonymous | | Permalink

Presumably this will only apply to UK arms manufacturers and distributors, so the rest of the world will have been given an advantage. who gains? Makes me wonder how much the polititians are recieving in back handers for this one. Bribes have always been a part of doing business particulary with Arms. I even believe one used to get tax relief on their payment, perhaps someone will clarify this for me.

davidwinch's picture

We are playing catch-up here

davidwinch | | Permalink

In this instance UK statute law lags some way behind that of other countries, particularly the USA, in relation to bribery of foreign officials.

See for example, in US law, The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 1977 and the International Anti-Bribery Act 1988.

David

playing by the rules of cricket

Anonymous | | Permalink

Unfortunately the English usually play by the rules, where as others e.g. Greece! do not even read them !

Do Accountants need to worry?

Anonymous | | Permalink

If an accounatnt who refuses to complete a set of accounts to meet a statautory deadline because preasure of wook takes on the work when the client says I will pay double.  Is this a bribe?

bribes

Anonymous | | Permalink

Only if the spelling is correct !

davidwinch's picture

What is a bribe?

davidwinch | | Permalink

You are bribing someone if you offer to pay them (or do pay them) to induce them to act, or offer (or make) payment as a reward for them acting, improperly.

That's not the full legal definition, but you get the idea.

Preparing accounts swiftly is not acting improperly.  So being paid extra for doing that more swiftly doesn't amount to a bribe.

You can see the text of the Bribery Bill at

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldbills/003/10003.1-7....

for more detail on what is meant by a bribe and by acting improperly.

David

davidwinch's picture

Fraud Advisory Panel publication

davidwinch | | Permalink

The Fraud Advisory Panel have published a new two-page handout "Bribery and corruption - protecting your business".  You can view it online at http://bit.ly/6pA1Ig

David

davidwinch's picture

The 'wash up'

davidwinch | | Permalink

It now does appear likely that the Bribery Bill will be dealt with before Parliament is dissolved for the election.

The Bill is expected to complete its passage through the final Parliamentary stages on 7 April, and then receive Royal Assent.

David

weaversmiths's picture

Bribery

weaversmiths | | Permalink

If a builder bribes an 'agent' (such as a caretaker or owner of an establishment) to get a job by seeing all the competitors' tenders in order to undercut and be sure of getting the job is that not bribery and under which present Act can he be prosecuted?  I thought I read of someone getting a few years inside for such an act within the last year? Perhaps there was public money involved via government grants.

 

 

TheAncientOne

davidwinch's picture

It depends

davidwinch | | Permalink

If the person receiving the bribe is an employee of the Crown or a government department, then the Prevention of Corruption Act 1916 is likely to be central.  If the employee is employed by a public body, then the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889 is likely to be the law you will look to.  (The Crown and government bodies fall outside the definition of a "public body" in the 1889 Act - don't ask me why!)  If it is an employee outside those categories, then look at the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 on the basis that the person receiving the bribe is an agent for his employer.

But the specific legal criteria for the the bribery / corruption offence in the various Acts are not the same - which makes the existing law a minefield!

If you are interested in the existing law then is some useful information at www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a_to_c/bribery_and_corruption . Enjoy!

David

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