The UK Crown Prosecution Service has announced the first prosecution under the Bribery Act 2010.
The defendant is a magistrate’s court clerk who is alleged to have requested a payment of £500 in return for influencing the court’s conduct of a motoring offence. This is contrary to section 2 of the Act which makes it a criminal offence for an individual to request or receive bribe intending to improperly perform his functions.
Under the Act the individual, if found guilty, could be liable for up to 10 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.
Although much of the early speculation was that the regulators would be focussing on companies’ activities abroad, this should serve as a reminder that the Act is now in force and applies equally to individuals. Companies can also be found guilty of offences under the Act and should ensure that they have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery taking place. The Guidance published under the Act is of some assistance but does require every organisation to review its bribery risks proactively and put in place steps which will minimise the risk of it happening.