Unscrewing the Inscrutable: The UK Bribery Act 2010

67 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2012 Last revised: 25 Sep 2012

See all articles by Bruce W. Bean

Bruce W. Bean

Michigan State University - College of Law

Emma MacGuidwin

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: September 1, 2012


The United Kingdom’s Bribery Act is a complete revision of all U.K. bribery and corruption statutes and applies to both domestic and foreign bribery. In this article we review the operative provisions of the Bribery Act and then focus on a surprising new corporate crime, the failure of a commercial enterprise to prevent a bribe. This crime, which requires no mens rea and no knowledge of the offending bribe, is directed not just at U.K.-organized businesses, but also at many non-U.K. businesses involved in cross border transactions. The Act will ensnare non-U.K. companies for three reasons: the Bribery Act contains an expansive concept of what may be considered a bribe, the jurisdictional reach of the Act is unparalleled, and the offending act of bribery need not be committed by an officer or employee of the company, but rather, any “associated person” may trigger the new strict liability crime of “failing to prevent bribery.” We also consider the Act’s unrealistic treatment of facilitation payments and hospitality expenditures, which compels the conclusion that thousands of international businesses are now guilty of the Bribery Act’s new crime of failing to prevent bribery. The surprising hypocrisy of Parliament criminalizing practices that it acknowledged are in fact daily occurrences by U.K. and non-U.K. companies almost defies explanation.

Keywords: bribery, FCPA,Bribery Act, BAE, Rotten Parliament, OECD Bribery Convention, status crime, ECHR Article 6(2), STRICT LIABILITY, adequate procedures, foreign public official, territorial jurisdiction, corporate crime, Al Yamamah, Prince Bandar

Suggested Citation

Bean, Bruce W. and MacGuidwin, Emma, Unscrewing the Inscrutable: The UK Bribery Act 2010 (September 1, 2012). Indiana International & Comparative Law Review, Forthcoming, MSU Legal Studies Research Paper 10-22, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2150256

Bruce W. Bean (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - College of Law ( email )

318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States
517/432-6920 (Phone)

Emma MacGuidwin

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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