The Bribery Act came into force on 1 July 2011 in the hope to strengthen the UK’s anti-corruption laws. The Act introduced four new criminal offences which can be summarised as follows:
(a) Bribing another
(b) Being bribed
(c) Bribing a foreign public office
(d) Failure of a commercial organization to prevent bribery by an ‘associated person’ for its benefit.
The definition of ‘associated person’ covers those who perform services for or on behalf of an employer, and therefore will cover employees, agents and subsidiaries. The definition also extends to consultants, agency workers and volunteers. Therefore, an employer is potentially responsible for the actions of a wide range of individuals, some of whom the employer may have minimal control over.
The consequences of breaching the Act could mean that an individual faces up to ten years imprisonment and a commercial organization can be fined an unlimited amount and prevented from tending for public contracts. As an employer you would have a defence if you could show that you had in place ‘adequate procedures’ designed to prevent bribery.