Bribery Act Delayed for a Second Time…

01 Feb, 2011

Confirmation of another delay in the implementation of the Bribery Act was given today as the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed that it had not set out clear guidelines for businesses in time to meet the January deadline.

A spokesman for the MoJ said: “We are working on the guidance to make it practical and comprehensive for business. When the guidance is published it will be followed by a three-month notice period before implementation of the Bribery Act.”

John Smart, partner at the Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services at Ernst & Young comments on the breaking news that the Bribery Act is being delayed. 

Those companies which are 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 the Act will come into force will only serve to increase the disparity between the best and the worst companies.  Responsible companies will want to stay within the law even if it is not enforced.  The critical factor is that companies need more certainty regarding the enforcement of the Act, rather than the current reliance on ‘the discretion of the prosecutor’.  UK companies will need to adopt a gold standard in the absence of certainty, and this will create an uneven playing field.  The legal application for all non-UK companies is not yet clear as competitors will not be adopting the same high standards. Regardless of whether the Act is delayed or not, all businesses will need to be adequately prepared and most importantly, understand the risks the business faces so as not to fall foul to the Bribery Act.

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