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UK Government delays Bribery Act

31 January 2011

The Government confirmed today that it will delay introduction of the Bribery Act 2010, following several weeks of rumours that pressure from the business community and uncertainty over how the law would work in practice had prompted a rethink. 

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke confirmed that the Government would review the legislation as it stands and publish new guidance on implementation. There will then be at least three months before businesses will be required to comply.

In a statement the Ministry of Justice said it was “working on the guidance to make it practical and comprehensive for business. We will come forward with further details in due course. The most important thing is to get it right".

However, David Lister, fraud investigation and dispute services director at Ernst & Young in Scotland, warned the move would put ethical companies at a competitive disadvantage.

He said: "Those companies taking the issue of bribery seriously and making changes to their culture and controls will be at the biggest disadvantage if the Bribery Act is delayed. In fact, delaying the Act will only serve to increase the time during which these forward-looking companies will be exposed to this disadvantage. A continued uncertainty about how the Act will be enforced and when it will come into force will only serve to increase the disparity between the best and worst companies. Responsible companies will want to stay within the law even if it is not enforced.”

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