The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ("OECD") Convention requires signatories, including the UK, to ensure that corporate bodies can be liable for bribery. In recent years, the OECD Working Group has repeatedly complained that UK law contains deficiencies with regard to laws on bribing foreign officials and on corporate liability for bribery. On numerous occasions it has called on the UK to amend its law to rectify these deficiencies to ensure the provisions of the Convention are honoured.
In response, the Government published a draft Bribery Bill in March last year. The Bill completed its passage through the Lords and was hurriedly passed by MPs in the Commons just a few days ago on 7 April as part of the 'wash up' of Parliamentary business prior to the general election. It received Royal Assent on 8 April and now has the status of an Act.
The Act sweeps away existing UK anti-corruption laws and introduces a new and complete scheme of bribery offences, with similarities to the anti-corruption regime in the US under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.