Bribery act 2010 key points

pile of documents
By Alistair Millar, Lecturer

8 April 2016

Student members returning for their second block of TPE will sit Business Ethics 2 where we will talk briefly about the Bribery Act 2010, a significant piece of UK legislation. Several past TPE case studies have featured this topic.

However, you don’t need to be a TPE student to appreciate the need for legislation against bribery. Thanks to the high-profile coverage in the media of alleged bribery and corruption across FIFA (the world’s governing body for one of the world’s biggest sports) it is hard to avoid the subject!

Here in the UK, the media has drawn our attention to the Glasgow-based logistics firm, Braid Group, and the penalties paid for breaching the Act.

The Bribery Act 2010 defines bribery as giving someone a financial (or other) advantage in order to encourage that person to perform their functions or activities improperly (or to reward that person for already having done so).

It is, therefore, an offence to:

  • Give a bribe (an active offence).
  • Receive a bribe (a passive offence).
  • Bribe foreign public officials (a public offence).
  • Fail to prevent bribes in the corporate sector (a corporate offence).

Recent Cases

The first case to be successfully prosecuted under the Act was in 2011, when Mr Patel, a magistrate’s court clerk, was sentenced to six years' imprisonment for the passive offence of accepting a £500 bribe to fix a parking offence.

The most significant case came in 2014 where three men were jailed and £23m of penalties were issued for a complex biofuels investment scam involving a potent cocktail of fraud and bribery.

In this week’s news, the Braid Group was issued with fines of £2.2m after reporting itself to the Crown Office. Following an internal investigation, it was discovered that one of its staff had committed the active offence of paying bribes to customers (providing an account with which to purchase holidays and hotel stays as well as cash!) and providing a director of another customer with a profit-sharing arrangement. Given that the group self-reported, the case was dealt with as a civil matter, rather than criminal.

It is unclear whether the penalties relate to any corporate offences as Braid Group had failed to prevent these bribes, which date back to contracts obtained in 2012.

Although the Bribery Act 2010 is accused by some commentators of perhaps being ineffective, this most recent case and others like it, show that the UK is increasing its focus on bribery.


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