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The Act introduces four new categories of offence:
The corporate offence introduces a new offence for businesses ‘failing to prevent bribery’. A business will commit the offence if an ‘associated person’ performing services on its behalf bribes another person in order to obtain or retain either business or a business advantage for the company. The definition of ‘associated person’ is very broad.
The only defence available to the company is proving that it had ‘adequate procedures’ in place designed to prevent bribery from being committed by those performing services on its behalf. The government has published guidance on what constitutes 'adequate procedures'.
The Act has a wide territorial scope. Acts of bribery committed by anyone in the UK or, if overseas, by a British citizen or any other person with a close connection with the UK can be prosecuted. The new corporate offence applies to any UK incorporated entity and any overseas entity that carries on a business or part of a business in the UK.
The Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for all new offences, except the offence relating to commercial organisations, which will carry an unlimited fine..
Geoff Nicholas, Partner
The UK Bribery Act represents a complete reform of the law on bribery in the UK. It came into force on 1 July 2011.
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