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No + £ = Yes

When the Bribery Act 2010 was introduced in the UK, it was lauded as "the toughest anti-corruption" legislation in the world.

When the Bribery Act 2010 was introduced in the UK, it was lauded as "the toughest anti-corruption" legislation in the world. We saw a flurry of firms ensuring that they had adequate anti-bribery procedures and processes in place, as well as introducing things such as ‘gifts registers’.

For most, the biggest fear was that the bottle of Barolo bought by the client at a business lunch could amount to an inducement! In reality, other than a few isolated incidents such as the court clerk convicted of taking bribes in 2011, there has been very little regulatory or police activity. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has only recently brought its first charges under the Act and the number of active investigations is apparently low (according to the City of London Police, the numbers are in the mid 20’s).

David Green QC, director of the SFO, in June this year told an audience of lawyers that in order to properly pursue corporates, a change in the law is needed to make companies criminally liable for failing to prevent fraud or theft by their employees. For law firms, this will require you to have adequate procedures across the practice to detect and prevent any type of fraud, not just anti-corruption as required by the current regime.

A change in government at the next general election will not change the position as Labour, the main opposition party, has outlined similar plans (unless of course a substantial donation alters the current thinking!). Joking aside, this is a serious issue and it is not clear as yet what the full implications of extending the requirements will be. Watch this space.

During the course of a corruption trial, the Crown Prosecutor attacked a witness.

"Isn't it true," he bellowed, "that you accepted five thousand pounds to compromise this case?"

The witness stared out the window, as though he hadn't heard the question.

"Isn't it true that you accepted five thousand pounds to compromise this case?" the lawyer repeated. The witness still did not respond.

Finally, the judge leaned over and said, "Sir, please answer the question."

"Oh," the startled witness said, "I thought he was talking to you."