UK firms under threat from new Bribery bill

THE Ministry of Justice (MoJ) launched a two-month consultation on the Bribery Act to help companies prepare for new legislation due to come in next April.

A consultation period with industry bodies kicked off yesterday and will run until the beginning of November. The government said that it plans to publish the responses in early 2011.

The consultation covers corporate hospitality and promotional expenditure. Firms have been concerned that the wording in the act was too broad, leaving large international companies vulnerable to bribery charges, especially when it came to entertaining clients and business partners.

Others fear that strict new legislation currently threatens to put UK companies and those
doing business in the UK at a competitive disadvantage

“That the government has now issued draft guidance is welcomed. The guidance is, as expected, based on principles. Although it doesn’t solve some of the problems, especially concerning the bribery of a foreign official, it is positive that some guidance has been provided on that point,” said Simmons and Simmons lawyer Patrick Boylan.