The Bribery Act received Royal Assent in April 2010. This expansive piece of legislation was introduced not only following recognition that the old law governing bribery was old and lacked clarity, but also in the wake of significant controversies (including the ‘cash for questions’ scandal and the dropping of the BAE Systems prosecution purportedly on the grounds of national security).
In March 2019, the House of Lords Select Committee on the Bribery Act described the Act as ‘an excellent piece of legislation which creates offences which are clear and all-encompassing’. It continued to say: ‘the Act is an example to other countries, especially developing countries, of what is needed to deter bribery.’ Notwithstanding such positive endorsements, however, there remain concerns. Questions remain as to whether the Act is being ‘adequately enforced’; collection of data is inconsistent across police forces; until 2019, there was no publicly available information on numbers of prosecutions/ convictions; the number of prosecutions appears to be low; there are ongoing issues with both under-resourcing and delays of enforcement agencies (particularly where large-scale and/or complex cases are being investigated); there remain issues with a lack of awareness of the Act on the part of police officials; and inter-agency cooperation is weak (House of Lords Select Committee, 2019).
Chair: Dr Colin King, IALS
Tags: The Centre for Financial Law, Regulation and Compliance (FinReg)
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