back to article Bribery Act passed by Parliament

A new bribery law has been passed by the Houses of Commons and Lords but is not yet in force. The Bribery Act can penalise companies whose employees engage in bribery if the company did not have adequate policies in place to prevent it. The law gives a more certain definition of what bribery is and updates a law that was seen …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "You're never going to get prescriptive advice from a prosecution agency such as the SFO [Serious Fraud Office] on what will be adequate and what won't," she said. "They don't want to fetter their discretion and set up too-firm guidelines or rules because each case is judged on its merits."

    And some Plod would have to make a judgement. And that judgement might be called into question, or even be (gosh horror!!!) wrong.

  2. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge


    "The employer of someone engaged in bribery can be held to account for the first time for those acts, even if the company did not condone or even know about it."

    Given that MPs are employed by the crown ('Her Majesty's Government'), does this mean that HM can be held responsible for the warren of corruption that is the Palace of Westminster? No? Oh well... Would be nice to see that lot held to account SOME day....

  3. Andy Hards
    Thumb Down

    companies want the meaning of adequae explained

    so that they can get the right advice to implement the bare min and instruct employees in how to get round them

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Go on, make my day, punk

    Is there any bigger bribery scam than that used by those who would squeal "Too big to fail"?

    Or do you want to try and ignore that inconvenient truth, and render the Bribery Act a Sick Joke and a Ticking Suicide Bombe.

  5. Mike Shepherd
    Thumb Down

    I can provide the brown envelope

    "Those who bribe and those who are bribed, whether in commercial organisations or governmental institutions, are thereby diminished by their actions..."

    I'd say that either "thereby" or "by their actions" is redundant, but it's not true anyway.

    If someone bribes me, I'm not diminished. On the contrary, I get richer.

  6. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Sounds like half a law to me

    The other half is about accepting bribes. Imagine what would happen if it worked both ways. Next time a politician takes a bribe, it could be because there are inadequate procedures in place to prevent it and all MPs could then be found guilty. Can anyone think of a good reason why they only tried to fixed one side of the law?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this apply to politicians?

    "The company can be liable unless it had adequate policies, systems and processes in place to tackle bribery and make sure it does not happen".

    So does that mean that next time a politician solicits fat brown envelopes packed with used tenners, the prime minister will find his ass in jail?

    No, I didn't think so.

  8. g e

    Are politicians exempt though?

    If not that's Mandelson's entire lifestyle gone.

    Quel dommage...

  9. The Indomitable Gall

    Plus ça change....

    "Businesses have said that they are left in doubt about exactly when that liability applies and what is meant by 'adequate'."

    Nothing new -- the same could be said for equality and H&S law...

  10. WonkoTheSane

    Wait till this becomes law

    Then point at those who voted for the Mandybill and the BPI/RIAA/etc.

  11. Shadowfirebird

    Unless you're the police or customs?

    As originally drafted the act specifically excluded "Any law enforcement agency".

    So the police, customs, and even your local trading standards office can bribe people.

    Wonder if that made it into the final draft?

    Link here:

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I trust...

    ...we will soon see a lot of MPs, civil servants etc languishing at Her Majesty's Pleasure? They should perhaps call this the Pot and Kettle Act.

    And is it just financial bribery that counts? Or will it include funny handshakes to do your mates a favour over jobs or contracts? Or relatives 'inheriting' sinecure govt and local govt jobs? Political time-servers ending up in lucrative quangos? Or developers getting green belt planning permission where all others had failed?

    Never a bad idea trying to control corruption, but private business is an amateur compared to the long established networks already in place for years.

  13. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton


    "Bribery is a crime that undercuts competitiveness, derails honest companies and distorts the marketplace,"

    Funny that in a comment about bribery/crime/anti-competitiveness, a railroad metaphor should show up... ;)

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Only took 13 years

    Question is will this be for publicity purposes or will people *really* be investigated.

    I hear the sounds of shredders working 3 shifts at Bae Systems.

  15. Kevin Reader

    Far be it for me to ask....

    Far be it for me to ask but does the definition of Company exclude the Houses of Parliament. Equally why this makes the employer very liable, does it pursue the employee (or MP as I might call them) with any more gusto.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So if you need to buy say 30k's worth of hardware and you shop around until the suppliers start throwing in ipods and xbox's, and you go with the one that gives you a free xbox or ipod - does that count as bribery?

    because that's how it works i my industry, suppliers effectively bribe us to buy from them. The thing is though, even though we get a free ipod, we're getting the best deal for the company as well, just a little perk on the side to go with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And let's not even mention...

      ...the substantial perks the big pharmaceutical companies routinely slide across the desks of our GPs and NHS CEOs...

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Similar story here.

      We had a party not too long ago, funded by a supplier. Free bar all night, nice meal, etc. Cleared them out for a lot more than an Xbox... and on the surface it hasn't changed a thing. We're still going to be with them in future as they're the best (and unless there's some real revolutionary new tech in their industry, they'll stay the best for a long time).

      BUT it's pretty much stopped any drive to even keep looking at the competition.

      It's not lead directly to more purchases, it's not pulled us from an imminent switch to their competitors. But it's helped keep us as very loyal customers for the foreseeable future.

      Is this a bribe?

      How about "we'll drop taxes on [x] for a vote"? That sounds like a bribe- and as it'll not actually happen the ASA and the fraud office should be involved too...

  17. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    IT Angle

    remember folks

    its not bribery when politicians are being paid by private companies, its 'lobbying'

  18. fred #257

    So where's the line drawn?

    Free samples? (That'd be good if you're in charge of leasing the vehicle fleet :) Sponsored 'golf days' or harbour cruises? Supplier-sponsored 'product releases' or 'seminars' with free food & drinks? Supplier's rep taking you to lunch? Bottle of wine at Christmas? Calendars? The line is in there... somewhere.

    (The icon reflects my usual score :)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great for those doing business in Europe

    But there are some jurisdictions (thinking anywhere that has dirty politicians, corrupt law enforcement officials, corrupt border and customs agents and so on) where bribery is the only way to get things moving.

  20. JohnG


    When I read the title, I assumed this bill would serve as guidance for American media tycoons, Indian arms dealers and Russian oligarchs in their dealings with our politicians and government officials. I thought it would set out details like where bribery lunches can be held, the minimum length of an oligarch's yacht for bribery events , the regulation envelope and briefcase sizes for cash bribes and so on.

    Despite the exemption of law enforcement and the like, the risk with this sort of legislation is that it might be used by a new government against former ministers of a previous government in their new careers as consultants to various companies would need to know who to bribe^H^H^H^H^H^H^H how to lobby government.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Turd polishing

    Yet another law which will have no effect on bribed politicians and those make the biggest harm to society.

    Under this law is perfectly legal to buy MPs and civil servents on whatever level you want.

    "The Bribery Act can penalise companies whose employees engage in bribery if the company did not have adequate policies in place to prevent it."

    Meaning: 1) Bribing other companies is illegal,

    2) unless you have adequate policies to prevent it (and then it's legal)


    This act also don't penalise the PM who got a new house for free, nono, it penalises the contractor. How convinient, isn't it.

  22. TeeCee Gold badge

    Let's look at this closely:

    "....places a new onus on companies...."

    "The company can be liable...."

    " agency to advise businesses....."

    ".....commercial organisations....."

    etc, etc.

    Yeah, right. It's not like we've seen any evidence of endemic graft and backhander taking in government recently now, is it? Now lets count how many times the public sector was referred to:

    ".....whether in commercial organisations or governmental institutions......"

    That'll be, er, once then. Even that's only in there as an afterthought to "commercial organisations" and only mentioned in passing by the Opposition.

  23. Peter Hood

    Parliament too?

    Does this mean no more cash for honours, cash for questions, lobbying for cash and other parliamentary behaviours I wonder. Personally I think that we should lock 'em in the dungeons and throw away the frigging keys, and I wonder how these corrupt creatures can even think of passing legislation, without first irrevocably committing themselves to Hara-Kiri

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