Introductionto Bribery laws delayed

Elizabeth Fournier
GOVERNMENT guidance on the Bribery Act will not be released this week as expected, pushing back implementation until at least May.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman told City A.M. that the guidance had been delayed to allow “more time ... to make sure the Act is fit for purpose and as comprehensive as possible,” directly addressing accusations levelled at the law earlier yesterday by incoming director-general of the CBI, John Cridland. “The regulation is not fit for purpose,” said Cridland, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme. “None of the definitions have been properly defined.”

Once the government’s revised guidance is released there will be a three-month gap before the legislation comes in, pushing implementation beyond the planned April deadline.

Business groups have been lobbying hard for the government to review the Act, with concerns raised over how corporate gifts will be treated under the rules.

Hospitality has been a particular sticking point for City firms, which want detailed guidance on exactly what will be acceptable to offer to clients. Concern is likely to gain momentum as summer sports timetables get underway, with corporate packages to the London Olympics in 2012 high on the list of gifts that companies are keen to get clarity on.

But despite the temporary reprieve offered by the delay advisers are warning that businesses should still be preparing now for the Act.

“Companies are ill-advised to delay their preparations,” said PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Andrew Gordon. “Putting adequate procedures in place takes longer than companies realise.”