Briefing Document / Oct. 27, 2010

Briefing Document: The Bribery Bill

Global Witness and its partners on the BOND anti-corruption group have long called for an overhaul of the UK’s outdated anti-bribery legislation, to prevent companies from paying bribes to facilitate their operations at home or abroad. Bribery is neither a victimless crime nor a necessary cost of doing business overseas. By stifling economic growth and squandering funds that could be spent on the development of basic services, it causes great suffering amongst the poorest in society.

Extensive lobbying on this issue bore fruit with the passage of a new Act in early 2010. The Bill received broad cross-party support and carried many of Global Witness’s recommendations. Notable for its broad scope and jurisdiction, the Bill created the new offences of bribing a foreign official and corporate failure to prevent the paying of bribes.

Unfortunately implementation has been delayed, with some business representatives citing a lack of guidance on meeting the Act’s requirements. Global Witness fully recognizes the need for guidance that informs businesses of their obligations under the new law but this should not shelter them from the consequences of transgression. We are likewise pushing for clear guidelines for prosecutors and calling for swift implementation of this landmark reform.

Download the full Bribery Bill briefing document