Global Anti-Bribery Guidance

Best practice for companies in the UK and overseas

Q&A in Relation to Bribery Offences in the UK


1. What is the legal framework governing bribery in the UK?

The Bribery Act 2010 ("UKBA") is the key piece of UK legislation governing bribery.It applies to conduct occurring from the implementation date of 1 July 2011.Older conduct occurring entirely before that date will be assessed by reference to the common law and a series of complex and overlapping pieces of legislation.

2. What constitutes a bribe?

-       A bribe is defined under the UKBA as a financial or other advantage given or received etc, with the intention of inducing or rewarding the improper performance of a relevant function or activity.

-       A relevant function or activity is one which is a function of a public nature, is connected with a business, is performed in the course of a person's employment, or is an activity performed by or on behalf of a body of persons (whether corporate or unincorporate) and the person performing the function or activity (A) is expected to perform it in good faith (B) is expected to perform it impartially or (C) is in a position of trust by virtue of performing it.

3. What are the principal offences under this legal framework?

-       Offering, promising, or giving of a bribe to another person (section 1)

-       Requesting, agreeing to receive, or accepting a bribe (section 2)

-       Bribery of a foreign (non-UK) public official (section 6)

-       Failure by commercial organisations to prevent bribery by their associated persons* committed with the intention of obtaining or retaining business or an advantage in the conduct of business for the commercial organisation (section 7).

                *For the purpose of section 7, a person is associated with a commercial organisation if (disregarding any bribe under consideration) they are a person who performs services for the commercial organisation.

4. What is the jurisdictional reach of the legal framework?

-       For the bribery offences under sections 1, 2 or 6 UKBA, the UK authorities may take jurisdiction where any act or omission which forms part of the offence takes place in the UK, or where a person or entity with a "close connection" to the UK takes part in the offence.

                For companies, "close connection" means being incorporated in the UK, whereas for individuals, "close connection" means being a British citizen or ordinarily resident in the UK, amongst other things.

-       In relation to section 7, any commercial organisation which is (i) incorporated in the UK and carries on business there or elsewhere or (ii) which is incorporated elsewhere but carries on business or part of a business in the UK will be subject to the offence. Bribery by a person of any nationality or citizenship, anywhere in the world, is capable of being caught by this section of the UKBA, provided the bribe payer is associated with the commercial organisation and the bribe is paid to obtain or retain business or an advantage in the conduct of business for the commercial organisation.