COMMENT: LAWYERS REACT TO THE BRIBERY ACT GUIDANCE

SATINDAR DOGRA| LINKLATERS

The guidance provides a welcome dose of common sense. The Act is not intended to subvert normal business interaction and this is now much clearer. The focus on proportionate compliance procedures may help save costs for some businesses, and foreign companies will be assured that they will not fall within the clutches of the UK regulator unless they have a demonstrable business presence.

STEPHEN MORRALL| DAWSONS

It is a pity that the Act imposes absolute duties. Despite representations from businesses, the government has refused to carve out ‘facilitation payments’. This criminalises conduct for which, as Ken Clarke admits, there is no public interest to prosecute, but leaves businesses in a state of uncertainty. This is unlikely to make the UK a more attractive destination for overseas companies.

HARRIET TERRITT| JONES DAY

The Bribery Act will have a big impact on M&A deals where one or more parties is subject to the Act. The possibility that a target company could be subject to a significant corruption investigation has obvious business and reputational implications, particularly given that fines are expected to be substantial and the target will likely have to disgorge any benefit received as a result of a bribe.