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Bribery Act 2010

25 November 2019

The Bribery Act was given Royal Assent in April 2010 and came fully into force on 1 July 2011. 

It makes it an offence for a United Kingdom (UK) citizen or resident to pay or receive a bribe, either directly or indirectly. It provides for transactions that take place in the UK and abroad, and both in the public and private sectors.

Companies and partnerships can also commit an offence where a bribe has been paid on their behalf by an associate. Associates include employees, agents and other persons providing services on behalf of the corporate entity. However, it’s a defence to have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.

This practice note explains in more detail the provisions of the Bribery Act and provides information on the procedures that firms can put in place to prevent bribery being carried out on their behalf and to avail themselves of the statutory defence.

Legal status

This practice note is our view of good practice in this area.

We issue practice notes for the use and benefit of our members. They represent our view of good practice in a particular area. They’re not intended to be the only standard of good practice that solicitors can follow. You’re not required to follow them but doing so will make it easier to account to oversight bodies for your actions.

Practice notes are not legal advice, nor do they necessarily provide a defence to complaints of misconduct or of inadequate professional service. While care has been taken to ensure that they’re accurate, up to date and useful, the Law Society will not accept any legal liability in relation to them.

For queries or comments on this practice note contact our Practice Advice Service.

SRA Standards and Regulations 

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Standards and Regulations 2019 replaced the SRA Handbook (2011) on 25 November 2019 and any references in this practice note are to the new regulations.

This practice note is relevant to:

  • all law firms authorised by the SRA
  • individual solicitors
  • registered European Lawyers (RELs) and registered foreign lawyers (RFLs), wherever they practise

SRA principles

There are seven mandatory principles which apply to all those the SRA regulates and to all aspects of practice. The principles can be found in the SRA Standards and Regulations.

The principles apply to:

  • solicitors or managers of authorised bodies
  • independent solicitors
  • solicitors working in unregulated entities
  • solicitors practising from an office outside the UK.
  • lawyer-controlled body practising from an office outside the UK

The SRA Overseas Rules and Cross-border Practice Rules apply to regulated individuals practising overseas and to responsible authorised bodies.

Terminology

Must - A specific requirement in legislation or of a principle, rule, outcome or other mandatory provision in the SRA Handbook. You must comply, unless there are specific exemptions or defences provided for in relevant legislation or the SRA's Regulatory Arrangements.

Should - Outside of a regulatory context, good practice for most situations in the Law Society's view. In the case of the SRA Handbook, an indicative behaviour or other non-mandatory provision (such as may be set out in notes or guidance).

These may not be the only means of complying with legislative or regulatory requirements and there may be situations where the suggested route is not the best possible route to meet the needs of your client. However, if you do not follow the suggested route, you should be able to justify to oversight bodies why the alternative approach you have taken is appropriate, either for your practice, or in the particular retainer.

May - A non-exhaustive list of options for meeting your obligations or running your practice. Which option you choose is determined by the profile of the individual practice, client or retainer. You may be required to justify why this was an appropriate option to oversight bodies. 

See our full glossary of other terms used throughout this practice note.

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The Practice Advice Service provides a dedicated support line for Law Society members and employees of law firms. Call us on 020 7320 5675.

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