The Bribery Act does not have retrospective effect. Therefore, acts committed prior to 1 July 2011 will fall to be assessed under the previous bribery regime.
The previous anti-bribery laws comprised complex, fragmented and overlapping offences at both common law and under various statutes. The key offences under the pre-Bribery Act regime are:
The common law offence
Offering, giving or receiving any undue reward by or to any person whatsoever in a public office in order to influence his behaviour in office and incline him to act contrary to the known rules of honesty and integrity.
The “public body” offence
The Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889, (as amended), prohibits a person from:
- corruptly soliciting, receiving, agreeing to receive, or giving, promising or offering
- any gift, loan, fee, reward or advantage whatever
- whether for the benefit of himself or anyone else
- as an inducement to, reward for or otherwise on account of
- any member, officer or servant of a public body
- doing or forbearing to do anything in respect of any matter or transaction whatsoever, actual or proposed in which the public body is concerned.
The agent offence
This offence derives from the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 (as amended). Unlike the statutory offence described above, it applies to all agents, whether in the public or private sector.
Under this statute, it is an offence where:
(i) an agent corruptly accepts, obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain from any person (for himself or any other person); or
(ii) a person corruptly gives, agrees to give or offers to an agent,
- any gift or consideration as an inducement or reward
- for doing or forbearing to do any act or showing or forbearing to show favour or disfavour to any person
- in relation to his principal’s affairs or business.