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Transparency International (UK) welcomes Law Commission’s proposal for new anti-corruption law

After 18 months the Law Commission today issued its long-awaited Report on corruption law, proposing a new draft Bill.

John Drysdale, Chairman of Transparency International (UK) said:

“New anti-corruption legislation is well overdue. We welcome the Law Commission’s balanced Report. The draft anti-corruption bill proposed by the Commission is a good foundation for the enactment of new legislation that will be easily understood and enforceable in the UK courts. Most importantly it will satisfy our OECD partners and make the UK fully compliant with the 1997 Anti-Bribery Convention.

“The consultation is over. The Government must now adopt these proposals in full and enact a new corruption Bill in the fourth session of Parliament. There is no room for further dithering. If the UK is to restore its international reputation the Government must act swiftly.

Chandrashekhar Krishnan, Executive Director of TI (UK) said:

“All political parties must unite as a matter of urgency to enact a new Bill. Years of consultation and hard work by the Law Commission have got us this far – the baton has now been returned to the Government for the final leg. We want to see a new anti-corruption Bill announced in the Queen’s speech in December and look forward to working with Anti Corruption Champion Jack Straw to deliver what he promised in 2000 as Home Secretary.”

Transparency International (UK) has made it clear that new legislation must allow the swift prosecution of both companies and individuals; make it a criminal offence for a UK company to bribe a foreign public official through an intermediary who is not a UK national; and not allow the Attorney General to give direction to investigations and prosecutions of foreign bribery. Decisions to investigate and prosecute should be left to the Director of Public Prosecutions and/or the Director of the SFO.

Notes to the editor

Transparency International (UK)

Transparency International (UK) is the National Chapter of the global anti-corruption non-governmental organisation, Transparency International (TI). TI, which is co-ordinated by an international secretariat in Berlin, is a coalition of more than 90 autonomous national chapters who are committed to fighting corruption using transparency as a major tool. TI is dedicated to combating corruption at the national and international levels through constructive partnerships with governments, the private sector, civil society and international organisations.

TI(UK)'s vision is for a world in which government, politics, business, civil society, domestic and international institutions and the daily lives of people are freed from corruption, and in which the UK neither tolerates corruption within its own society and economy, nor contributes to overseas corruption through its international financial, trade and other business relations.

History to the Law Commission report

  • The Government introduced an anti-corruption Bill in 2003. This was found to seriously deficient by TI (UK) and the Joint Parliamentary Committee that scrutinised the Bill. No further action was taken on the Bill.
  • After a public consultation on bribery law in 2005/06, the Government asked the Law Commission to undertake a further review and make proposals for a new law. The Commission’s proposals were published on 20 November.
  • In 2006, in the absence of any action from the Government, TI(UK) prepared a draft anti-corruption Bill in order to demonstrate that it was possible to develop simple but effective legislation. The Bill was introduced as a private members bill and passed in the House of Lords in 2007. .
  • The Draft Bill proposed by the Law Commission today recommends a repeal of the common law offence of bribery, the whole of the 1889, 1906 and 1916 Acts, and all or part of a number of other statutory provisions.

Why a new Bill is needed

  • The OECD Working Group on Bribery has been extremely critical of deficiencies in the UK’s enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. It has been particularly concerned at the UK’s continued failure to address weaknesses in its laws on bribery of foreign public officials and on corporate liability for foreign bribery.
  • Current UK anti-corruption legislation makes it difficult to prosecute foreign bribery. The UK has an extremely poor record compared to its G7 peers [USA: 103 cases; Germany: 43; France: 19; UK: 2]. This is hurting the UK’s reputation calling into question its commitment to fight international corruption.

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Emma Smith, Communications Manager
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Robert Barrington, Director of External Relations
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