13 June 2018
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced that an individual faces the first-ever prosecution under the UK’s new Bribery Act 2010, which came into force on 1 July 2011 and is widely regarded as the most stringent and draconian anti-corruption legislation in the world.
A Magistrates Court clerk faces a charge under section 2 of the Bribery Act with the offence of “requesting and receiving a bribe intending to improperly perform his functions”. A spokesman for the CPS said that it is alleged that the clerk “promised an individual summonsed for a motoring offence that he could influence the course of criminal proceedings in exchange for £500”. The maximum penalty for individuals found guilty of bribery is 10 years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
The Bribery Act is controversial and applies not only to individuals who offer, give, request, or accept bribes. It also makes commercial organisations that do business in the UK liable for failing to prevent bribery by their employees or agents, even if the bribery takes place outside the UK and without the organisation’s knowledge or consent. Moreover, there is only one defence available: the organisation must be able to show that it has “adequate procedures” in place to prevent bribery. It is therefore essential that companies who are based in or do business in the UK put in place and maintain adequate procedures to prevent bribery.