Seven years after it came into force, a House of Lords Committee (“the Committee”) has called for evidence from both the public and private sector for its post-legislative scrutiny inquiry into the Bribery Act 2010 (“the Act”). The Act established the two basic crimes of giving and receiving bribes, and created the crimes of bribery of foreign public officials, and of the failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery. Before the 2010 Act the law of bribery had not been substantially amended for nearly a century, and used an amalgamation of old legislation, which was not fit for purpose.
Call for evidence
Among the issues that the Committee will examine are:
- the effectiveness of the Act;
- whether there has been stricter prosecution of corrupt conduct, a higher conviction rate, and a reduction in such conduct;
- the impact of the Act on SMEs; and
- Deferred Prosecution Agreements (“DPAs”).
To date, the Committee has heard from Sir Brian Leveson (who to date has presided over all four DPAs), the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, and the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Committee has also personally requested Iskander Fernandez, head of BLM’s White Collar Crime & Investigations team, to discuss the first and to date, only case to have argued the "adequate proceedings" under section 7 of the Act (R v Skansen Interiors Limited).
Iskander was the lead lawyer on the Skansen case. His invaluable insight and personal perspective on the case will provide the Committee with a first-hand account of how the investigation of Skansen was held by the City of London Police, and the subsequent prosecution by the CPS.
What this means for you
The Act has had significant impact on corporates, and the tone from the UK’s prosecution authorities is that no matter the size, each corporate must have a set of bespoke policies and procedures in place to prevent bribery.
As we saw in Skansen, simply having non-specific policies, which although may address the risks of bribery, will not be sufficient. Corporates are strongly encouraged to embed a culture within their ranks of the importance of adhering to the letter and spirit of the Act. Failure to do so could result in a corporate being investigated, and find its name publically dragged through the courts, with all the subsequent reputational fall out that may follow.
The Select Committee on the Bribery Act 2010 will hear evidence from Iskander Fernandez on 11 December 2018 at 10.30am. To view the session, click here.