The Ministry of Justice has recently announced that the Bribery Act will come into force on 1 July 2011. The Act has faced delays due to criticism that its rules were not practical and comprehensive enough for business.

As promised, the government has given a three month notice period before the act is implemented to ensure businesses have time to prepare.

The new Bribery act will aim to Introduce a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business. A business can avoid conviction if it can show that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.

Make it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe either at home or abroad. The measures cover bribery of a foreign public official.

Increase the maximum penalty for bribery from seven to 10 years imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.Business Secretary Vince Cable said the government was “minimising regulatory burdens” on businesses, which now have an additional three months to prepare for the act.

“Bribery has no place in British business, at home or abroad. This robust law reflects the UK’s leading role in the fight against bribery,” he said.

Lawyers said businesses would welcome the revised act.

“The full force of the criminal law will not be brought to bear on well run organisations that are affected by an isolated act of bribery, and this will come as a relief to businesses,” said Jeremy Summers, partner in business crime and regulation at Russell Jones & Walker.

“It does appear that the government has listened to the concerns of business and tried to soften the more extreme ways in which the act potentially could have been enforced.”