UK anti-corruption initiatives: Bribery Act update, DPAs and new sentencing guidelines

In this, the most recent of Ince & Co’s regular updates on ongoing UK anti-corruption measures, the firm highlights recent suggestions of a possible review of the UK Bribery Act 2010, outlines the way in which deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) are expected to work in the UK when they are implemented in February 2014 and summarises the proposed new sentencing guidelines for financial crimes published by the Sentencing Council for England and Wales in June 2013.

While this article focuses on anti-bribery measures in the UK, the UK’s anti-corruption initiatives should be seen in the light of international efforts to combat bribery and corruption. In recent years, anti-corruption laws have evolved in many jurisdictions largely as a result of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) Anti-Bribery Convention 1997, whose signatories agreed, among other things, to adopt domestic legislation to criminalise the bribery of foreign public officials, to provide international assistance in prosecuting foreign bribery, to introduce corporate liability for bribery and to impose proportionate and effective sanctions for bribery offences. As at August 2013, 40 states, including the UK, are signatories to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

The UK Bribery Act has generated some criticism since it came into force on 1 July 2011. Among the concerns that have been expressed are that there is uncertainty and confusion over compliance with the act, that it puts UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at a competitive disadvantage with their foreign competitors in the international market and that the act’s total ban on facilitation (or ‘grease’) payments is very difficult for UK businesses operating in certain overseas jurisdictions to comply with. There have also been no corporate prosecutions under the act to date, but only minor prosecutions of individuals in relatively low-level cases…

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