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Countdown to the Bribery Act

14 January 2011

With only three months to go before the Bribery Act 2010 comes into force in April the Government has decided that it wants the Act to be reviewed. Unfortunately for UK businesses this does not mean that they can breathe a sigh of relief as an official from the SFO has already said that the review will be ‘limited’, despite headlines in the press.

The review follows escalating fears that the Act is so burdensome it could affect UK economic growth, and that UK business chiefs could end up in court after inadvertently committing an offence with a potential maximum sentence of 10 years.

However the Government needs to be cautious. Watering down the Act now would ruin the reputation the UK has earned itself, as the least corrupt country in the world, by implementing the Act in the first place. The Government should concentrate on issuing coherent, useful guidance for companies and ensuring that authorities deal with potential breaches of the Act in a sensible and proportionate way.

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