Policy paper

Ministry of Justice: Bribery draft legislation March 2009

This publication was published under the 2005 to 2010 Labour government

This document contains the following information: Bribery: draft legislation

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The current statutory criminal law of bribery is functional and cases are prosecuted successfully, but it is old and anachronistic, has never been consolidated and there are inconsistencies of language and concepts between the various provisions and a small number of potentially significant gaps in the law. The result is a bribery law which is difficult to understand for the public and difficult to apply for prosecutors and the courts. This draft legislation follows the Law Commission’s consultation paper (no 185, ISBN 9780118404457) and final report (‘Reforming bribery’, Law Com. 313, ISBN 9780102958164). The purpose of the draft Bill is to reform the criminal law of bribery to provide for a new consolidated scheme of bribery offences to cover bribery both in this country and abroad. The Bill replaces the offences at common law and under the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889 to 1916 with two general offences covering the offer, promise and giving of an advantage or the request, agreeing to receive or acceptance of an advantage. The Bill also creates a discrete offence of bribery of a foreign public official and a new offence of negligent failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery. The other main provisions of the Bill include: extra-territorial jurisdiction to prosecute bribery committed abroad by persons ordinarily resident in the UK as well as UK nationals, and UK corporate bodies; replacing the existing requirement for the Attorney General’s consent to prosecute a bribery offence; a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment for all new offences, save the corporate offence, which will carry an unlimited fine.

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