Bribery Act 'to help fight against corruption'

Image caption The government said the act would not be a burden on businesses

The government has said its new Bribery Act will cement the UK's position as a global leader in the fight against business corruption.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke announced the act will come into force on 1 July, and not next week as previously proposed.

He said the act would be implemented in a "workable, common sense" way.

He added that businesses should not be concerned about any increased costs resulting from the new legislation.

"Some have asked whether business can afford this legislation - especially at a time of economic recovery," Mr Clarke said.

"But the choice is a false one. We don't have to decide between tackling corruption and supporting growth. Addressing bribery is good for business because it creates the conditions for free markets to flourish."

Welcome act

The government said it did not expect "genuine hospitality" or similar expenditure to fall under the act.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the government was "minimising regulatory burdens" on businesses, which now have an additional three months to prepare for the act.

"Bribery has no place in British business, at home or abroad. This robust law reflects the UK's leading role in the fight against bribery," he said.

Lawyers said businesses would welcome the revised act.

"The full force of the criminal law will not be brought to bear on well run organisations that are affected by an isolated act of bribery, and this will come as a relief to businesses," said Jeremy Summers, partner in business crime and regulation at Russell Jones & Walker.

"It does appear that the government has listened to the concerns of business and tried to soften the more extreme ways in which the act potentially could have been enforced."

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