The UK's long-anticipated Bribery Act 2010 came into force on 1 July 2011. This much talked-about legislation modernises UK laws on bribery and corruption. It is expected to lead to higher levels of enforcement and a renewed focus on corporate compliance.
The modernisation of Irish bribery legislation in December 2010 by the implementation of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 2010 in Ireland has been overshadowed by this UK development. Although Irish businesses face potentially unlimited fines for breach of domestic anti-corruption laws, these laws are not receiving significant attention. The Garda Bureau of Fraud investigation is the enforcement body in Ireland. While very few cases of corruption have been pursued in Ireland to date, the worldwide increased focus on anti-corruption laws is likely to have an impact on the Irish position.
Diligent enforcement worldwide under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is escalating national enforcement actions in other countries. This increase is bolstered by industry-focused investigations, such as oil and gas, pharmaceutical and medical devices, and financial services. The prosecution of individuals and heightened levels of international anti-corruption cooperation have dramatically increased enforcement. If the UK Serious Fraud Office adopts this type of focus on worldwide investigation and co-operation, the UK Bribery Act 2010 is expected to have reverberations in many other countries, including Ireland.
A key similarity between the Irish and UK legislation is that both regimes penalise bribery and corruption offences committed anywhere in the world, though with different triggers for the penalty. Irish companies that 'carry on business' in the UK come within the worldwide remit of the UK Bribery Act 2010, meaning...