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U.K. Bribery Act Delayed

The U.K. Ministry of Justice announced yesterday (see here [1]) that implementation of the Bribery Act will be delayed until April 2011. Among other things, the release states as follows:

“In September the Government will launch a short consultation exercise on the guidance about procedures which commercial organisations can put in place to prevent bribery on their behalf.

This will be published early in the New Year to allow businesses an adequate familiarisation period before the Act commences.

The consultation will be followed by a series of awareness-raising events to ensure everyone is aware of the changes the Bribery Act makes to the current law.”

The Bribery Act (see here [2]) is generally viewed as being more broad in scope than the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Originally planned to “go live” in Fall 2010, the Bribery Act was creating much angst among the business community as to how to comply with many of its vague provisions.

The Financial Times reports that Kenneth Clarke, recently appointed as the U.K. international anti-corruption champion (see here [3]), “bowed to pressure from business by delaying implementation of the long-awaited Bribery Act by six months, a move anti-corruption activists claimed could lead to it being watered down.”

The Financial Times article quotes Chandrashekhar Krishnan, the executive director of Transparency International – UK, as saying that the delay is “extremely disappointing” and that the “danger is that under the guise of consultation attempts” attempts may be made to “water down the Act.”

Whatever the reason or motivation for the delay, it is always a good idea to have clear laws which put all on notice of what is prohibited. If that is the end result of the additional consultations, that is a result all can cheeer.

For more on the U.K.’s enforcement of anti-corruption laws, including how the U.K. Serious Fraud Office is adopting DOJ-like enforcement strategies see here [4] and here [5].