Combating Overseas Bribery
I. Introduction to the Background of Anti-Bribery Law in the UK
Although corruption and in specific bribery in this country can be traced back to the sixteenth century, there was not any substantive law until the late 1970s. The financial services industry in the City of London both domestically and internationally was regulated by self-regulation. The Bank of England as the dominant institution was operating great deals of control and moderation in the city of London and was able through social and banking pressures to determine the level of credit the financial institutions traded. The importance of tax and fiscal factors were relative to the many different ways London has functioned and generally operated as an off-shore financial center. It should however be stressed that “off-shore” is a state of law rather than a geographic area.
The law on bribery was reformed in 1995, when it was suggested that the criminal law of bribery should be consolidated because of the inconsistencies of language and the unclear scope of the common law offence.
The need for legislative reform was pointed out by a report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), where the UK was criticised for failing to adequately implement the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Officials in International Business Transactions.
The low esteem of compliance and official regulators, allowed compliance to only largely develop in the last 20 years.
Although corruption in the UK is not regularly found among particular people or in a certain area, in 2010 Transparency International UK launched the significant findings from a progression of studies which examine the levels of corruption in the UK. Transparency International UK’s recent corruption report highlighted corruption vulnerabilities in some of Britain’s sectors and institutions by commissioning three pieces of work. The report showed that in some areas of UK sectors and institutions, corruption is a greater problem than addressed. As in any country, corruption in the UK is not a victimless crime. It is especially topical, given the devastating impact of the financial crisis that took place in 2008 exposing governments to risks and the need for additional legislation, leading to the subsequent reform of the UK`s regulatory framework.
II. The Enactment of Bribery Act 2010
The Law Commission`s recommendations – published November 2008 – replace the existing bribery law. The Bribery Act 2010 received Royal Assent on 8 April 2010. Its enactment was intended to respond to threats of bribery which inevitably undermine democracy and the rule of law, by introducing the extremely broad range of ways that bribery can be committed. Thereupon, the Bribery Act 2010 introduces these four prime offences which update and
enhance UK law on bribery, in furtherance of addressing better the requirements of the 1997 OECD Anti—Bribery Convention. The Act aims to provide a modern legislation that effectively deals with the increasingly sophisticated, overseas bribery, and orderly make the prosecution of bribery by individuals and organizations both within the UK and overseas effective. The Act applies to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It now notably is among the strictest legislation internationally on bribery.