4 June 2010 by Matthew Miller

Bribery Act 2010

As a result of the enactment of the Bribery Act 2010 on 9 April 2010, in the public and private sectors, it is now an offence for any UK person or business, operating in the UK or aboard:

  • to offer, promise or give a bribe;
  • to request, agree to receive or receive a bribe; and/or
  • to bribe a foreign public official in order to obtain or retain business.

The legislation has also created a “corporate” offence for commercial entities that fail to prevent a bribe being paid by those who perform services for (or on behalf of) that entity. It will be a defence if the entity has put in place “adequate procedures” to prevent bribery. Exactly what will constitute “adequate procedures” is currently unclear, but it is evident that the standards expected of a small private company will not be the same as those expected of a large multi-national corporation.

The new legislation is regarded as a much-needed overhaul of UK bribery and corruption legislation, most of which was piecemeal and/or out-of-date, and is even wider in scope than the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), under which the US authorities have been investigating and prosecuting domestic and overseas bribery/corruption offences since 1977.

For example, the extra-territorial reach of the new legislation is more extensive than that of the FCPA – it applies to any company (wherever it happens to be incorporated, registered or conduct its business) provided that it carries on some aspect of its business in the UK. It also applies to any conduct that takes place outside of the UK. So, a company could be held liable in the UK for failing to implement “adequate procedures” in relation to conduct in a foreign country that is not connected with any aspect of its UK business. As such, it will be increasingly important for UK businesses operating overseas to take local legal advice in relation to their trading practices.

The FCPA also makes an exception for small “grease” payments which may be paid to facilitate relevant official processes or procedures. But under the UK legislation, all payments, however small, will be illegal. As a result, compliance with the new legislation may inevitably make it more difficult for UK businesses to trade in certain jurisdictions where such payments are customary.

Offences under the new legislation are punishable by heavy fines and/or imprisonment.

21 May 2010 by Nicki Iliffe

HIP Replacement

As from today Home Information Packs (HIPs) have been suspended and are therefore not required for any homes put on the market from now onwards. You do, however, still have to have commissioned (but not necessarily have received) an energy performance certificate before marketing your property.

28 May 2010 by

Services Charges: Striking a balance

The recovery of service charges can sometimes be an area of contention between landlords and tenants, often leading to one […]

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