Bribery Act sentence misses the mark

23 November 2011

The much reported first prosecution under the Bribery Act proved to be all but an irrelevance.

The defendant was sentenced for longer for another offence, leaving UK plc none the wiser about the new corporate liability under the Act. 

The first successful prosecution under the Bribery Act 2010 ended up being (judging by the sentence) for another more serious, pre-existing offence.  The prosecution of a court clerk for taking bribes to assist motoring offenders could and perhaps should have been brought solely under the common law of misconduct in public office.  He was sentenced concurrently to only 3 years imprisonment for the Bribery Act offence but 6 years for misconduct in public office.

The hype surrounding the introduction of the Bribery Act and its new, section 7, corporate offence has generated substantial and understandable interest in how the prosecuting authorities and courts will interpret the 'adequate procedures' defence. 

As I pointed out before, the much anticipated first Bribery Act prosecution has therefore been a wasted opportunity.  Politicians and prosecutors are bound to be disappointed with this lame first result from their much heralded Act.  UK plc and its lawyers must wait some more before any useful judicial interpretation of the new Act.

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