And news has finally arrived: Richard Alderman of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) confirmed today that the implementation of the Bribery Act will be delayed for a second time. The delay is tied to the finalization of the publication of the Adequate Procedures guidance by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).
One has to wonder how much of the delay is the result of the recent campaign by businesses against the Act’s economic burdens and the resulting government Growth Review and how much of it is the result of the speedy drafting and passage of the Act in the final days of the Labor government’s term last April. Regardless, the people spoke and the government listened.
Alexandra Wrage of TRACE International, believes that by delaying the Act, the UK “risks losing much of the ground it gained” by passing it in the first place. For, the Act was meant to be the toughest kid on the anticorruption block, far surpassing the FCPA with its strict requirements.
Chandrashekhar Krishnan, Executive Director of Transparency International UK, states:
“This is disastrous news. Last July, the Government committed to publishing its Guidance to companies early in the new year so the Bribery Act would come into force in April 2011. The Government has failed to fulfil that commitment. Even worse, it is not prepared to confirm a revised time frame…[t]his raises serious doubts about the credibility of the Government’s commitment to the Bribery Act.”
It is expected that the law will still be passed; however, it is also expected that it will be pressed firmly into the statute books three months from the publication of the MOJ’s Adequate Procedures guidance. Whatever the final date, we know that this law in one way or another will affect the dealings of those companies with British ties. Therefore, this time of uncertainty should be regarded as a blessing disguised as a motion for continuance to work on compliance programs.
So, we wait, but we wait productively.