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The United Kingdom Ministry of Justice today announced that the UK Bribery Act, including the new strict liability corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery, will come into effect in April 2011. This is later than originally proposed, but reflects more recent anticipation as to the likely timetable for implementation.

Under the new corporate offence, a commercial organisation caught by the Act (which may include non-UK companies if they carry on business in the UK) will commit a criminal offence if a person “associated” with the organisation bribes another person (within the meaning of the Act) with the intention of obtaining or retaining a business advantage for that organisation. The Act also creates a potential defence for a commercial organisation against this new offence if the organisation can prove that it had in place “adequate procedures” designed to prevent persons associated with the organisation from committing a bribery offence. At the time of the passing of the Act into law, it was announced that the UK government would issue guidance in relation to what was meant by “adequate procedures” before the Act came into effect, and this guidance has been eagerly awaited.

Further details on the content of the Act, the new offences and the penalties for conviction can be found in the related articles listed below. You are strongly advised to read these and take appropriate professional advice.

The Ministry of Justice also announced the timetable in relation to this guidance. The UK government proposes to launch a short consultation exercise on this guidance in September 2010, and to publish the final guidance in early 2011.

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Category: Business Law

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