Skip to main content

Corruption

Volume 691: debated on Tuesday 1 May 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What statutory measures or common law provisions allow the United Kingdom to fulfil the obligations under European Union Council framework decision 2003/568/JHA of 22 July 2003 on combating corruption in the private sector. [HL2786]

The attached table gives details of the United Kingdom's compliance with the European Union Council framework decision 2003/568/JHA of 22 July 2003 on combating corruption in the private sector.

Council framework decision of 22 July 2003 on combating corruption in the private sector (Official Journal L 192/54-56, 31/7/03)

All the mandatory requirements of the Framework Decision are met by UK law.

Article No.

UK transposition measures

Status

Article 1

Article 1 is confined to definitions

Existing measure/s

Article 2

Article 2 is met by Section 1 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 which applies throughout the UK. The first paragraph of this provision criminalises the action of any “agent” who corruptly accepts or obtains “any or other consideration” for doing acts, or making omissions, or showing favour or disfavour “in relation to his principal's affairs or business”. The expression “agent” includes any person employed by or acting for another, and the expression “principal” includes an employer (see annex). The second paragraph of this provision criminalises the action of any person who corruptly gives or agrees to give or offers “any gift or other consideration” to an “agent” as an inducement or reward for doing acts, or making omissions, or showing favour or disfavour “in relation to his principal's affairs or business”.

Existing measure/s

Article 3

Article 3 on instigation, aiding and abetting is covered under Section 8 of the Accessories and Abettors Act 1861 (which applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland). That lays down that any person who aids, abets, counsels, or procures an indictable offence (and the offences under the 1906 Act are indictable) may be prosecuted and punished as a principal. (“Counsel” and “procure” would cover instigation). Incitement to commit any crime is also a separate common law offence in itself.

In Scotland, participating or instigating is covered under the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. Instigation to commit crimes is also a common law offence.

Article 4

The maximum penalty under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 for corruption is seven years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

Existing measure/s

Article 4(3) is covered by UK law in the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

Article 5

As regards Article 5(1), the general provision concerning legal persons is made under the Interpretation Act 1978, which (in its Schedule 1) provides that unless the contrary is stated, the word “person” in a statute is to be construed as including a “body of persons, corporate or incorporate”.

Existing measure/s

Article 5.2 is a matter addressed in two ways in UK law. First, under the civil law of negligence, a plaintiff could sue a legal person on the basis that the legal person owed him a duty of care, had failed to fulfil it, and that this had resulted in damage to the plaintiff.. Secondly, Article 5.2 is covered by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, in that where a benefit accrues to a legal person as a result of a crime (any crime, committed by anyone) the proceeds could be recoverable by a civil action under the new Act.

With regard to 5.3, the liability of a legal person does not preclude criminal proceedings against natural persons who are involved in the commission of an offence of the type referred to in Articles 2 and 3.

Article 6

It follows from the provision of the Interpretation Act 1978 referred to above, that legal persons are subject to the same penalties as natural persons. They would thus be liable to unlimited fines in cases taken on indictment.

Existing measure/s

Article 7

As concerns 7.1(a): having regard to the general principles of our criminal law, the courts have held that the 1906 Act can apply to offences committed in whole or in part in our jurisdiction.

Existing measure/s

As concerns 7.1(b), as of 14 February 2002, with the implementation of Part 12 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, Section 109 of that Act extended the normal jurisdiction of our courts in cases of corruption, including the first two offences under Section 1 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, to cover offences by UK nationals which take place outside the UK. There is no dual criminality requirement. We therefore fully implement Article 7.1(b).

As regards Article 7.1(c) the UK exercises its right, under Article 7.2, not to apply this rule in full.

With regard to Article 7.3, it should be noted that the UK also stands ready to extradite its own nationals to face charges abroad.

Article 10

Gibraltar is intending to transpose this measure as soon as legislative time allows.