Bribery and Corruption

Bribery and Corruption


In the past few years, there has been a significant change in the way in which prosecuting authorities have dealt with allegations of commercial crime. These changes have coincided with an increase in charges laid against people by the SFO and FSA.

Examples of the changes in approach can be found in the use of:

  • Encouragement of self-reporting and whistle-blowing;
  • Offering immunity from prosecution in return for giving evidence;
  • Civil recovery rather than criminal prosecutions;
  • Formalised plea bargaining arrangements;
  • Global settlements to ensure international resolution.

A further extension of the prosecutorial armoury can be found in the Bribery Act 2010, which was enacted in part as a result of considerable international pressure being placed upon the UK to ensure compliance with its obligations to fully tackle bribery and corruption. When the Act came into force on 1st July 2011 it abolished the UK’s entire framework of anti-corruption legislation and replaced it with a modern and comprehensive law, identifying particular offences of paying (or offering) a bribe, accepting a bribe or bribing a foreign public official. The maximum sentence is 10 years imprisonment.

Controversially, the Act dramatically extends the liability of a corporation, and renders a corporate entity guilty if anyone acting on its behalf bribes another anywhere in the world. This has radically overhauled the law on corporate liability and has extended the jurisdiction covered by UK courts. Although the offence is of strict liability, there is a defence for a commercial organisation to show it had adequate procedures in place to prevent persons associated with it from committing bribery offences. 

Bribery and Corruption Barristers