Bribery Act Revised Guidance

30 Mar 2011

Simmons & Simmons Says Revised Bribery Act Guidance Provides Greater Clarity for Business

 

New guidance released on the UK’s Bribery Act is a significant improvement on the draft and will broadly be welcomed by businesses, say lawyers at international law firm Simmons & Simmons.

The guidance:

emphasises a proportionate and risk based approach to bribery risk
clarifies key concepts such as “carrying on a business in the UK”;
reduces the number of parties on whom companies will be expected to conduct due diligence;
shows more understanding of the limits of control in joint ventures.
Commenting on the new guidance, Nick Benwell, partner and head of the Crime, Fraud and Investigations Group at Simmons & Simmons who has been closely involved in advising clients on the potential impact of the Bribery Act, said: ‘‘The final guidance is very much improved. It goes a long way to address the criticism of the draft guidance published last September.”

“Businesses will welcome the clear acceptance that anti-corruption procedures should be risk-based and proportionate to their circumstances,” he added.

Charles Mayo, a corporate partner and expert in corporate governance issues, comments: “It doesn't answer all the difficult issues and in one sense never could. Deciding on what is legitimate business conduct and what is intended to corrupt, requires individual judgements. Overall though, the guidance now gives companies a good basis from which to prepare for the Act.”

The most important change the legislation will introduce is that any company with a business presence in the UK will be liable for bribes paid on its behalf by any employee, agent, contractor or other associated person, anywhere in the world. The only defence is to show that the organisation had ‘adequate procedures’ to prevent corruption.

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Notes to editors:

1. We are a leading international law firm with fully integrated teams working through offices in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The firm has a focus on four industry sectors: Energy & Infrastructure, Financial Institutions, Life Sciences and Telecoms, Media & Technology (TMT).

2. Simmons & Simmons is an international legal practice carried on by Simmons & Simmons LLP and its affiliated practices. Accordingly, references to Simmons & Simmons mean Simmons & Simmons LLP and the other partnerships and other entities or practices authorised to use the name “Simmons & Simmons” or one or more of those practices as the context requires. The word “partner” refers to a member of Simmons & Simmons LLP or an employee or consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications or to an individual with equivalent status in one of Simmons & Simmons LLP’s affiliated practices. For further information on the international entities and practices, refer to simmons-simmons.com/legalresp

3. The Bribery Act is a far reaching piece of legislation, passed with cross-party support at the end of the last government’s term. Its implementation has been delayed for a consultation from September to November 2010 on the guidance for commercial organisations. The final guidance was to have been published in January 2011, with the Act coming into force three months later. There was criticism from the OECD and the US administration when this was further delayed.

4. Ranked in band one for Fraud: Criminal: Corporate, the Crime in Chambers 2010, the Fraud & Investigations team offers a ‘unique breadth’ of experience in fraud and corporate crime. Our corporate crime lawyers provide advice in business crime, civil fraud, money laundering (AML), bribery and corruption, extradition, cartels, regulatory and health and safety investigations as well as crime fraud and asset tracing. We have established the largest corporate crime group in Europe.

5. Visit our website at simmons-simmons.com or our award-winning online legal service at elexica.com (which includes a Bribery Act microsite covering updates, client briefings, client seminars and podcasts and further resources)

6. For further information, please contact Sarah Cannon, Senior Communications & PR Executive, on +44 20 7825 3962 or at sarah.cannon@simmons-simmons.com