This post was written by Simon Hart.

Eight weeks and counting. That is the period that the UK’s Ministry of Justice has given for responses to their consultation paper on the guidance which will be published by the Government as to what might constitute “adequate procedures” for companies who might find themselves relying on the statutory defence under the new Bribery Act 2010.  What is significant is that the Government has consciously truncated the usual 12 week consultation period so that the formal guidance can be published in January 2011 with the intention being that the Act will still come into force in April 2011.

The draft guidance is built upon 6 principles:

  • risk assessment
  • top level Board commitment,
  • due diligence
  • clear practical and accessible policies and procedures
  • effective implementation
  • monitoring and review.

Around each of these the Government has identified a number of draft questions that organisations need to ask themselves in order to decide whether their procedures are adequate for their business.  As expected, it appears the guidance will be high level, leaving the onus upon companies to interpret what is required.

Whilst the form of the draft guidance is not a surprise, the timetable for the consultation shows a clear commitment by the Government to bring this Act in to force in spring of next year. In planning terms, that is a very short space of time for corporations to assess their business models and put in place the necessary procedures.  The clock is ticking.