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U.K. Bribery Act escalates liability risks for U.S. companies

Strict law takes effect this month.

The United Kingdom is cracking down on corruption, and businesses the world over will be forced to respond. 

On July 1,  the U.K. Bribery Act 2010 came into force, giving Britain the toughest anti-corruption legislation in the world. The Act has an extremely wide reach, affecting all companies that do business in the U.K. or employ British citizens.

Worldwide Reach

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Act is its reach. Any corporation with business operations in the U.K. or British employees will be subject to enforcement—even if the violation occurs outside of the U.K. and doesn’t directly involve any British citizens.

“Good ethical companies have bribes paid on their behalf [due to] a lack of control, and that is not really a criticism of the company,” Burkill says. “This means that such a company will commit an offense if it’s in the U.K.’s jurisdiction unless it’s had adequate anti-bribery procedures. It’s a bit like buying insurance.”

Above all, experts say, in-house counsel must be diligent in reviewing and enforcing anti-bribery procedures internally to avoid violation.

Kayleigh Roberts

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