The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) is on bended knees, urging the UK government to delay the implementation of the UK Bribery Act to July 2011 (instead of April 2011), stating that realistically small and medium sized businesses need more time to reorganize their internal policies and procedures to comply with the Act.
A glimmer of hope appeared in pushing implementation back following the announcement of the government’s Growth Review, which, inter alia, reassessed the Act and its impact on economic growth.
Much to the dismay of some, it is nevertheless unlikely that the Act will be scrapped altogether. Not only would the new coalition government need to justify its repeal on a political level, but the Act would also need to be expunged from the statute books following its passage last April.
The UK is strapped between having to fully satisfy its treaty obligations under the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and pulling the country out of the recession by promoting investment while dodging complaints that the Act would hinder the competitiveness of UK businesses abroad (similar to the complaints lodged by US companies following the passage of the FCPA in 1977).
Following the Growth Review, Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokeswoman released the following statement:
“[B]ribery should play no part in winning investment or business, and we stood by all the other OECD countries that had similar anti-bribery laws. Clearly we wanted to be business friendly: the aim of the growth review was to ensure that we tried to remove obstacles for investment, but at the same time ensure that we didn’t promote activities we didn’t abide by, such as bribery.”
Before the end of this month (a mere 7 days away), the Ministry of Justice is due to release its final guidance on adequate procedures to prevent bribery that would help businesses align themselves in compliance with the rigors of the Act.
It would be an understatement to say that further guidance is eagerly being awaited. And, as though we do not have enough trepidation over the Act, we now (over)eagerly await on news as to whether any final amendments will be introduced and/or whether implementation will be pushed back.