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Bribery Act commencement delayed

23 July 2010

The Bribery Act 2010 will come into force in April 2011, the Government announced this week.

The Act strengthens and updates the existing UK law on prevention of corruption, imposing a criminal liability on companies for bribes paid by employees and others performing services for the company unless a company has "adequate procedures" in place to prevent the practice.

Under the Act the UK Justice Department is bound to publish guidance on what constitutes "adequate procedures". This was expected over the summer but difficulties have been experienced in drafting the guidance so as to make it appropriate to different sizes of company. A consultation will now be opened in September, with the actual guidelines scheduled for the beginning of 2011.

Companies had expressed concerns that they would be subject to a more stringent regime than their overseas competitors, and would be at risk in parts of the world where corruption is prevalent. Anti-corruption campaigners however have criticised the delay, expressing fears that the Act may be watered down in practice.

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