United Kingdom


What is the UK Bribery Act?

The UK Bribery Act (UK Bribery Act) is the main anti-corruption law in the United Kingdom, passed in 2010, which aims to update and improve legislation on international bribery and fraud, adapting to international requirements (Convention on the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials of the OECD, United Nations Convention Against Corruption).
The UK Bribery Act -together with the FCPA of the United States- is one of the extraterritorial regulations with the greatest impact in anti-corruption matters, criminalizing bribery committed by public officials -national and foreign-, as well as in the private commercial sphere, which promotes the strengthening of effective controls to prevent bribery in companies and the correct implementation of Compliance programs.

Who can be sanctioned?​

This law must be complied with by any individual or legal entity that has a close relationship with the United Kingdom (British citizen or habitual resident and legal entities incorporated in the country), guided by the implications of this law in all their business worldwide.
A company may be liable for failing to prevent a person connected with the company from committing bribery on its behalf.
It should be noted that this law only relates to bribery, and not to other crimes known as “collar and tie” offenses.

Offenses included in the Anti-Bribery Law

Bribing another person, offering financial or other advantages (Section 1, UKBA).
Being bribed (Section 2, UKBA).
Bribing a foreign public official (Section 6, UKBA).
Any commercial organization that has part of its business in the United Kingdom and in which a person associated with the company (providing services to the company as employees, consultants, or agents) bribes another (Section 7, UKBA).

*Natural and legal persons can commit Sections 1, 2, and 6 Offences; but the Section 7 Offence can only be committed by a company.

* Bribery may not only be in the money and includes anything of value to the recipient, without regard to a minimum level of value. Thus, a bribe can be gifts, travel, meals, entertainment, business opportunities, among others, either for the employee or his family.

How to avoid sanctions under the Anti-Bribery Act:

  1. Implementation of a Compliance Program

a) To align internal practices with the requirements of the law.

b) To incorporate in policies and procedures, the strict regulations indicated in this law, and formally communicate them to employees.

c) To implement whistleblower channels, as well as to give employees the security to report without fear of retaliation.

2. Training on the program

Training on anti-bribery practices to the entire company, including the board of directors, and especially to employees in risk areas, such as the commercial area.

  1. Guided by the 6 fundamental principles established by the Law:

a) Proportionality: procedures appropriate to the industry in which the company operates and its associated risks.

b) Tone at the top (High-Level Commitment): encourage managers and senior executives to get involved in crime prevention and compliance programs.

c) Risk assessment: potential risks, both external and internal, of the organization must be identified and addressed.

d) Due Diligence: carry out a correct and exhaustive evaluation of third parties with whom the company does business.

e) Communication: the policies implemented to prevent bribery must be known by every member of the company.

f) Monitoring of the compliance program: it is essential to follow up to verify that the program is complied with and does not remain on paper.

Consequences of non-compliance with the UK Bribery Act

It provides for severe penalties for natural and legal persons who actively or passively commit bribery, including prison sentences of up to ten years, with the power of extraterritorial application.

Compliance programs according to the UK’s Fraud Office

The Serious Fraud Office (The Serious Fraud Office) has published a guide, prepared by the British Ministry of Justice, for companies to know how to implement a correct and efficient compliance program, according to the requirements of the UK Bribery Act.

To read the Guide,