This post was also written by Kirsty O’Connor.

Quelle surprise! The Ministry of Justice has recently announced that the UK Bribery Act will not come into force until April 2011 (six months later than previously suggested). The legislation that was rushed through before the recent general election needs some fine tuning, or at least a little elaboration about how it will work in practice.

The reason for the delay is so that the Government can engage in a consultation with businesses about the “adequate procedures” guidance to be published, as well as to give commercial organisations time to ensure their systems and controls are in line with the new Act. Certainly, this is sensible given that evidence of adequate procedures in place will serve as a defence to the corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery.

However, the new timetable has been met with cynicism from groups that campaigned for the legislation. It is feared that the extra time will allow the Government to water down the Act and make it easy for corporate bodies to wriggle off the anti-corruption hook. We shall have to wait until the Government’s guidance is published in early 2011 to see whether the strict liability corporate offence retains its teeth.

For further information on the Bribery Act and recent developments, please click here.