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UK Bribery Act and British businesses abroad


04 January 2011

The UK Bribery Act will come into force in April 2011.  

Litigation partner Simon Clarke and associate Sharon Nye in Hong Kong explored its implications on British businesses abroad and looked at what these companies need to do now to avoid future fines and penalties. They compared the Bribery Act to Foreign Corruption Practices Act (FCPA) in the US in this article which appeared in the recent issue of IFLR.

The UK Bribery Act 2010 (Bribery Act) is due to come into force in April 2011. In the past, international legislative initiatives against corruption such as the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) focused on bribery of government officials in the public sector. For the first time, the Bribery Act creates a corporate criminal offence that could potentially expose British corporate interests operating internationally to unlimited fines for failing to prevent bribery.

The international crack-down on corruption is fuelled by US legislative initiatives such as the Dodd- Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd Frank Act) which promises a bounty payment to informants who bring violations of securities and commodities laws to the attention of US regulators. It is anticipated that the Dodd Frank Act will have a knock-on effect of increasing investigation under the UK Bribery Act given the propensity of US and UK regulators to co-operate in international investigations of bribery and corruption.

Against this backdrop of expansive new legislation and renewed global regulatory commitment to fight corruption, UK businesses face tough choices when operating in jurisdictions or industries where "back-handers" are common business practice. We discuss below the long-arm reach of the Bribery Act; the current international regulatory environment and its impact on British businesses abroad; and what British businesses can do to establish adequate procedures and mitigate corruption risks in compliance with the new law.

Please download our article "UK Bribery Act and British businesses abroad" (168KB, PDF) for the full story.

This article appeared in the Dec/Jan issue of IFLR in 2010.


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