The Government has delayed the implementation of the Bribery Act. It will not now come into force in April as planned, but will be put on hold while the Government rewrites guidance for businesses on how to comply with the 2010 law.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has not said when new guidance will be published but has said that three months must pass between the publication of guidance and the implementation of the Bribery Act.
"We are working on the guidance to make it practical and comprehensive for business," said a MoJ statement. "When the guidance is published it will be followed by a three month notice period before implementation of the Act."
The law had been due to come into force in April and was dependent on guidance produced by the last Government. That guidance was criticised by the Law Society for a lack of clarity and the MoJ said earlier this month that it would produce new guidelines.
The publication of Government guidance is an essential part of the Bribery Act, which says that companies will be responsible for their employees' corrupt acts unless they can show they had adequate policies and procedures in place to combat bribery.
Business opposition to the law prompted the last Government to insert a requirement in the Act that ministers produce guidance on what exactly those procedures and policies should be in order to comply with the new law.
The delay and the rewriting of the guidance will be welcomed by businesses, said Benjamin Long, a white collar crime specialist with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM.
"This will be welcomed by businesses, who will now have more time to put procedures in place so that they stay on the right side of the new law," said Long. "It will also be welcomed if it means that the Government will produce clearer guidance on exactly what companies have to do to meet the requirements of the Bribery Act."
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