The Government's long-awaited guidance on the Bribery Act 2010 has now been released.
A 'Quick Start' Guide has also been produced.
Introducing the Act, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has confirmed that the legislation will not lead to a large number of prosecutions and will not outlaw corporate hospitality:
"Cases will be brought where they are in the public interest, which will require the personal agreement of the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Director of the Serious Fraud Office,"
"I do not expect a large number of prosecutions and certainly not for trivial cases. The Act should not be used to stop companies from entertaining customers and contacts."
"The guidance makes clear that no one is going to try to stop businesses getting to know their clients by taking them to events like Wimbledon, Twickenham or the Grand Prix," said Clarke. "Reasonable hospitality to meet, network and improve relationships with customers is a normal part of business."
The Guidance Reads:
"Bona fide hospitality and promotional, or other business expenditure which seeks to improve the image of a commercial organisation, better to present products and services, or establish cordial relations, is recognised as an established and important part of doing business and it is not the intention of the Act to criminalise such behaviour,"
The Act will now come into force on 1 July 2011.
The guidance clarifies what is meant by adequate procedures, and said that this would be considered in the light of the size and kind of company involved.
The Justice Secretary added:
"Small organisations are unlikely to need procedures that are as extensive as those of a large multi-national organisation," said the guidance. "A very small business may be able to rely heavily on periodic oral briefings to communicate its policies while a large one may need to rely on extensive written communication."
"Modest risks require modest procedures to mitigate them."
"Small companies ought not fear that they will suddenly need an army of lawyers in order to manage bribery risks."