The Bribery Act has raised corporate standards

Legislation to streamline the UK’s anti-corruption laws and sweep away a myriad of disparate archaic offences was introduced by the coalition government in 2010.

But in the week when fraud investigators have struck two more deferred prosecution agreements with corporations, views are mixed as to whether the Bribery Act has lived up to its billing as setting the “gold standard” and leading the global fight against corporate crime.

It was dubbed by some as a “prosecutors’ charter” as the new “failure to prevent” corruption offence made it easier to put companies in the dock. However, judged on the low number of prosecutions, it could be argued that the legislation has failed. Nonetheless, the 2019 House of Lords select committee’s post-legislative scrutiny report described the act as “an excellent piece of legislation” — while noting that the number of prosecutions had been “low”.

The first, brought by the Crown Prosecution Service in 2011, was of a court clerk who pleaded guilty to taking a £500 bribe for making a speeding charge disappear. That early conviction, says Peter Binning, a partner at the law firm Corker Binning, “foreshadowed a less than glorious decade of real enforcement results, at least where individuals are concerned”.

Read more at The Times

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