The Bribery Act 2010 is UK-wide legislation sponsored by the UK Ministry of Justice which came into force on 1 July 2011. In February 2010, the Scottish Parliament agreed a Legislative Consent Motion (LCM) for the legislation (the effect of a LCM is to permit the UK Houses of Parliament to legislate in a devolved area). Therefore, the Act applies across all of the UK, including Scotland.
The Act ensures Scotland (and the rest of the UK) is at the forefront of the battle against bribery and pave the way for fairer practice by encouraging businesses to adopt anti-bribery safeguards.
The Act reformed the criminal law in Scotland as well as the rest of the UK providing a new, modern and comprehensive scheme of bribery offences that will enable courts and prosecutors to respond more effectively to bribery at home or abroad.
- makes it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe either at home or abroad. The measures cover bribery of a foreign public official.
- increases the maximum penalty for bribery from seven to 10 years imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.
- introduces a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business. A business can avoid conviction if it can show that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.
On 14 September 2010 the UK Government in conjuction with the Scottish Government launched a short consultation exercise on the guidance about procedures which commercial organisations can put in place to prevent bribery being committed by their employees on their behalf. The consultation exercise ended on 8 November 2010. The finalised guidance and Quick start guide was published on 30 March 2011.
The provisions in the Act were commenced on 1 July 2011.