The Act and how it may affect your organisation

The Bribery Act 2010

The Act creates four statutory offences:

Section 1

A general offence of offering, promising or giving a bribe.

Section 2

A general offence of requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting a bribe.

Section 6

Bribery of a foreign public official

Section 7

A corporate offence of "failing to prevent" bribery.

Wide Ranging Implications & Corporate Responsibility

Sections 1,2 & 6 apply to offences committed in the UK and to offences committed abroad by a person with a close connection to the UK. A 'close connection' is defined as a British National or a person ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership. The maximum penalty under these sections is 10 years imprisonment.

The biggest impact of this new Act is likely to be Section 7, "failure of a relevant commercial organisation to prevent bribery". 'Relevant commercial organisations' are defined as a body or partnership incorporated or formed in the UK irrespective of where it carries on business or an incorporated body or partnership which carries on a business or part of a business in the UK. Failure to prevent bribery applies to failing to prevent conduct that would amount to an offence under section 1 or 6. It does not matter where in the world the offence takes place and the requirement of a 'close connection' does NOT apply to this section. This means an organisation can be charged with failing to prevent bribery by a person working on the behalf of its business (regardless of where they are located). This does not only apply to an employee but to agents, partners, subsidiaries, and contractors etc. working on the organisation's behalf. This offence carries a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine. The section 7 offence is in addition to any liability which might arise under sections 1 or 6.


The onus of proof will be with the organisation, in any case where it seeks to rely on the defence, to prove that it had adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. The level of proof required will be the 'balance of probability' as opposed to 'beyond reasonable doubt'.

The likely level of fines that will be imposed under this section is not known. However fines imposed by regulators for similar offences such as the FCPA are massive, therefore failure to prepare for this new Act could be have a serious detrimental effect on its organisation.