U.K. Passes "Bribery Bill"

30 April 2010 Publication

On April 7 and 8, 2010, the U.K. Bribery Bill passed the British House of Commons and House of Lords, respectively, creating the United Kingdom’s most comprehensive anti-corruption legislation to date. Of particular note, the law has been characterized by many as being stricter than its U.S. counterpart, the FCPA. For example, in addition to making it illegal to bribe foreign officials, the U.K. law also makes it illegal to request or accept a bribe. Also, unlike the FCPA, which applies to any company listed on a U.S. stock exchange, the U.K. Bribery Bill applies to any company doing business in the U.K. The U.K. Bribery Bill is also considered stricter due to the fact that the law does not contain an exemption for "facilitating payments" or payments made to expedite the performance of a “routine governmental action” such as acquiring government licenses or permits. Such payments are explicitly exempted under the FCPA.

Similar to the U.S. Department of Justice's emphasis on a company's compliance program when determining settlements or penalties under the FCPA, the U.K. Bribery Bill allows a company to defend itself by showing that had “adequate procedures” in place to prevent employees from engaging in corrupt conduct.