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Business Lawyer Casts Doubt Over Bribery Act Review

Expert States Major Amendments 'Are Unlikely'


The government is unlikely to make wholesale changes to the Bribery Act once its upcoming review of the legislation is completed, according to a leading business lawyer at Irwin Mitchell.

Reports have suggested that the anti-bribery legislation will be examined as part of plans to consider a reduction in the red tape faced by a number of businesses. It is thought that ministers are keen to cut the impact that the law, which was brought into force in April, may have.

However, Kevin Robinson, who specialises in fraud and corporate crime at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, has suggested that major amendments to the Act are at this stage unlikely.

He explained: “As the legislation is already on the statute books, any alteration would require further legislation - meaning there is simply no way that can happen quickly.

“In addition, the Bribery Act is part of a worldwide move to eradicate corruption and the Government wants the UK to be recognised as a world leader. While it was enacted by the previous government, it had total cross party support and it is doubtful the coalition government would go back on its support.

“The government may also find it difficult to find elements of the Act to change meaningfully, other than introducing the need for corruption into the Foreign Public Official offence (Section 6) which is currently absent. I can't see anything else in the Act which is capable of alteration without destroying the entire structure.

“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Government is committed by international treaty, the OECD convention on bribery of foreign government officials, to harmonise our domestic legislation with treaty obligations.

“This Act is part of how we meet those treaty obligations. The OECD has been waiting for the UK to do this since 1997 and has repeatedly criticised this country for not being treaty compliant. It is unthinkable having got this far that the government will step back from that.”