UK: Anti Bribery & Anti Corruption Law In The United Kingdom

Last Updated: 26 July 2019
Article by STA Law Firm

This article sets out brief summaries of the United Kingdom (UK) Anti Bribery &Corruption law and emphasizes the significance of the compliance of provisions by individuals, Businessmen, professionals while conducting themselves.

The main legislation in the UK governing bribery & corruption is Bribery Act, 2010 which came into force on 1 July 2011. This act is basically a consolidated scheme of bribery offences to cover bribery in the U.K & abroad. The act defines criminal offence of bribing another person, public official, being bribed & liability of commercial organisations to prevent offence of bribery. The act has the extraterritorial jurisdiction meaning thereby that a person who is a citizen of the UK or a resident of UK would be held liable for the offence of bribery under this Act irrespective of the place of the offence. Likewise, a body incorporated under the U.K law would be liable under the act if the offence of bribery is committed by it while operating in the UK or elsewhere. A maximum penalty of 10 years or an unlimited fine or both has been incorporated for all the offences except offences under section 7 of the Act relating to the prevention of the offence of bribery by commercial organisations which carry the punishment of an unlimited fine.

The principal bribery offences:

Sections 1, 2 & 6 of the Act deal with the offence of bribing, being bribed and bribing foreign public official respectively. In common parlance, Bribery means when a person gives money to another person for some financial advantage to him or his relation. In legal terms as in the Act, Bribery has been defined in wide terms. According to section 1 of the Act, a person is liable for the offence of bribery when he offers, promises or gives a financial advantage to another person for the purpose of improper performance of relevant function or activity on latter's part. It is not necessary that offence should be completed, merely offering a bribe to another person makes the person liable under the definition. Similarly, a person would be held liable whether the offence is committed by him directly or through someone else.

It is not imperative that the person to whom bribe has been offered has to engage in improper performance of a relevant function or activity meaning thereby that offeror of the bribe would still be held responsible even if it is performed by someone else.

As per Section 2 of the Act, a person is liable for the offence of bribery when he requests, agrees to receive or accepts financial advantage or other in relation to improper performance of a relevant function or activity. A person would be held liable for the offence under this section whether the advantage is for himself or for somebody else. Similarly, he would be responsible whether he undertakes upon himself to perform of relevant function or activity improperly or engages someone else.

Section 6 creates a distinct offence of bribery of a foreign public official. A person commits offence under this section if he offers, promises or gives any financial or other advantages to a foreign public official with the following intention:

  1. to influence the Public official in the performance of his/her functions as a public official and
  2. to obtain/retain business or advantage in the conduct of the business.

In this section, a bribe may be offered by the person himself or through a third party and likewise, the advantage may be for the recipient himself or for some other person on the latter's request.

This section makes it clear that mere offering/promising of a bribe to a Foreign public official makes a person liable meaning that acceptance on the part of a public official is not necessary, subject to the following two conditions:

  1. Such official should not be permitted/required by the applicable written law to be influenced by the financial or other advantages (offence under this section is not committed if he is permitted to be influenced by written law).
  2. Above mentioned two intentions on the part of the person offering the bribe must be proved.

Foreign Public Official as per sub-section 5 of the act includes officials whether elected or appointed who hold the legislative, administrative or judicial position of any kind of a country or territory outside the UK or an official who performs a public function within such country/territory. It also includes officials of Public International Organisations.

Written law applicable to the foreign public official is that part of U.K Law to which he is subject and if UK Law does not apply to him, the law of the country (in any written form) in relation to which he is such official would be applicable. If he is an agent of Public International Organisation, the rules of such an organisation would be applicable as per subsection 7.

Improper performance of function or activity to which bribe relates:

As defined above, Bribe is when a person offers a financial advantage to another person for doing an improper performance of a function or activity. Section 3 to 5 deals with the same. Function or activity to which bribe relates include all functions of public nature and all activities connected with business, trade or profession carried out either in the UK or abroad, and need have no connection with the UK as per Section 3 of the Act.

Now the question arises how the improper performance of the function or activity would be judged? The answer lies in the Expectation Test described as under:

Subjective test or Expectation Test is what would a reasonable person in the United Kingdom would expect in relation to the performance of function/activity. If the performance of any act by a person does not meet the expectation test, performance would be held improper as per section 5 of the Act.

Further Section 5 clarifies that the performance of a concerned person in relation to function or activity expected by a reasonable person should be subject to any part of UK Law. Any local custom or practice in this regard is to be disregarded unless permitted/required by written law applicable to the country.

Responsibility of Commercial organisations to prevent bribery.

Commercial organisations include a body incorporated or partnership firm formed under the law of the UK carrying on business in the UK or somewhere else, or a body incorporated, or partnership formed somewhere else but carrying on their business in the UK.

Commercial organisations would be liable for any improper performance of a function or activity committed by a person who is associated with them as an employee, agent or subsidiary as per section 7 of the act which embodies the principle of Vicarious liability.

Section 15 of the act deals with proceedings for an offence against a partnership under Section 7. Such proceedings must be brought in the name of the partnership and any fine imposed on the partnership on the conviction must be paid out of the partnership assets as per subsection 3.

Defences for bribery offences

Section 7 & 13 deals with the defence available to commercial organisations and persons respectively.

The only defence which is available with the organisation under section 7 (2) is that it had adequate procedures in place to prevent such person associated with it from committing bribery offences.

On the other hand, within Section 13, two defences are available to the person (charged with the bribery offence) if his conduct is necessary for:

  1. the proper exercise of any function of Intelligence Service or
  2. the proper exercise of any function of armed forces when engaged in active service.

Guidance about Commercial Organisations to prevent bribery

As per Section 9 of the act, duty has been imposed on Secretary of State to publish guidelines on procedures to be adopted by the organisations to prevent bribery by the persons associated with them.


According to section 10, prosecution for the offences under this act is initiated in the UK with the consent of one of the directors of the Department of Public Prosecution or Serious Fraud Office or Revenue and Customs Prosecution.


Section 11 of the act deals with it. Any individual who is guilty of an offence under sections 1, 2 or 6 is liable for imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or to a fine up to statutory maximum or both upon summary conviction and in the cases of conviction on indictment for imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or an unlimited fine or both.

On the other hand, under section 7 in the cases of conviction on indictment, a person is liable to a fine only.

Offences under sections 1, 2 or 6 by bodies corporate etc.

Under Section 14 if it is proved that any offence mentioned within sections 1, 2 or 6 is committed either by body corporate or partnership, the senior officer, director of such body or partner would also hold liable subject to the following two conditions:

  1. He has consented to or connived in the commission of the offence and
  2. He must have a close connection to the U.K as defined in section 12(4).


From a legal perspective, Bribery Act 2010, has been defined widely by covering all the persons who have a link to the United Kingdom or even if they have no connection to the UK, they still are held liable if they engage in a conspiracy to commit bribery with a person who is in the UK.

In the end, it could be said that in addition to violating legal and moral codes, bribery poses serious problems for economic development and international trade. Fostering a culture within the organisation to prevent the bribery is need of the hour. Due diligence procedures should be in place within the organisation to mitigate bribery risks. Along with it, the organisation should monitor and review procedures designed to prevent bribery and make improvements wherever necessary.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions