This post was also written by Emma Osborne.
The first person to be charged under the new UK Bribery Act, a magistrates court clerk, was convicted by Southwark Crown Court on Friday, 14 October 2011.
The court clerk, 22 year old Mr Munir Yakub Patel, was convicted under Section 2 of the Bribery Act for requesting and receiving a bribe intending to improperly perform his functions. The court heard that Mr Patel agreed to use his position at Redbridge magistrates court to prevent a traffic penalty from being entered onto a court database in exchange for £500.
Mr Patel was bailed until 11 November 2011, when he will be sentenced.
The case was brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (‘CPS’) which, like the Serious Fraud Office (‘SFO’), can bring prosecutions under the Bribery Act. It is anticipated that the CPS will focus on more domestic prosecutions whilst the SFO will focus on the more complex overseas corruption cases.
Although this is a minor conviction, it marks the start of the jurisprudence under the new Act. However, it will have little bearing on how complex overseas bribery cases will be dealt with or on how contentious parts of the Act relating to jurisdiction and “associated person” will be interpreted. The Act is not retrospective and will only apply to offences committed since it came into force on 1 July 2011. It may therefore take some time before we see the first SFO prosecution under the Act.