Regular readers will know of my dislike for the UK’s Bribery Act 2010 – or, more specifically, for the corporate offence contained in Section 7 of the Act. If it were a person, it would be off my Christmas card list, and grouped with Conrad Black, Leona Helmsley and L Ron Hubbard in the category of those whom I would most hate to see at my fantasy dinner party. My beef actually is not with Section 7 itself, but with the craven lack of guidance published to go with it. If you are going to threaten people with iron rations for not having in place “adequate procedures” designed to prevent bribery, it’s only fair to tell them what those procedures should look like. Otherwise, it’s akin to saying that there is a speed limit on a road, but neglecting to tell drivers what it is – just plain unfair. But while the AML legislation- with its similar requirement for adequate AML procedures – comes hand-in-hand with (extremely) detailed guidance, the Bribery Act has nothing (and I don’t count the anorexic explanatory notes issued by the Ministry of Justice alongside the Act – they seem to me simply to have found a hundred different ways to say “let’s wait and see”).
(By the way, please forgive all the food-related terms in that paragraph – I forgot my Ready Brek this morning.)
But salvation may be upon us, and from an unexpected source: the Isle of Man. Yes indeed. It has been announced that the IoM’s new Bribery Bill has received its first reading in the island’s parliament. And this Bribery Bill mirrors closely the UK’s Bribery Act 2010, and in particular will introduce a “failure to prevent bribery” offence for commercial organisations, subject to an “adequate procedures” defence. Hurrah and huzzah! The draft legislation states that “the Department [of Home Affairs] must publish guidance about procedures that relevant commercial organisations can put in place to prevent persons associated with them from bribing”. And during the consultation process, that Department has confirmed that it is indeed “intending to issue drafts of the guidance [on the corporate offence] prior to the Act (if approved) coming into effect”. You see where I am going with this…. So let’s strike a deal with the IoM: you can copy our Bribery Act, as long as we can copy your guidance on it.