Government to review Bribery Act after concerns over red tape

THE GOVERNMENT is set to review the Bribery Act after concerns that the legislation has put small businesses at a disadvantage.

The act, which was introduced in 2011, has been criticised as binding businesses in red tape with regards to what are known as facilitation payments. Facilitation payments are when someone gives an official an incentive to perform or speed up a duty, for example paying to get a package through customs. They have been illegal since before the Bribery Act was brought in, but have been criticised as being too strict in comparison to the more flexible US system.

Some say they leave businesses wary of activities such as simply taking people to dinner.

The review was not formally announced, but a government spokesperson said: “The government is clear that the Bribery Act and its associated guidance should not impose unnecessary costs or burdensome procedures on legitimate business. [We] are working to ensure that small firms understand the requirements and only put in proportionate measures to comply.”

Barry Vitou, a partner at Pinsent Masons, said it was unnecessary to review the Bribery Act, since the benefits of doing so were very unclear. “It is all a bit premature to talk about this because there’s been no corporate prosecution since the act,” he told City A.M..