Bribery is the offering, promising, giving, requesting, or accepting of a financial or other advantage with the intention to induce or reward improper performance.
Under the 2010 UK Bribery Act, on which the University’s policy and guidance is based, bribery is a crime identified via a number of specific offences that are outlined below. It is not a new crime – the 2010 Act simply states the latest piece of applicable UK law; with many countries also having similar legislation.
The law applies to any person or organization based in the UK and covers all of their activities, wherever they take place in the world. It also applies to any foreign person or organization who operates within the UK.
Under the Bribery Act it is an offence to:
a) Offer, promise or give bribes (section 1 of the Act)
If the intent exists and an offer or promise is made then, even though nothing may have changed hands, this is sufficient. Nor can the law be side-stepped by getting someone else to offer the bribe on your behalf since the Act also makes it an offence for an agent or associated person, acting on your behalf, to pay or offer a bribe.
b) Request, agree to receive or accept a bribe (section 2 of the Act)
As with the offer or promise of a bribe, a request is sufficient to constitute an offence without anything having changed hands. A bribe may take any form, size or value: it is not necessarily monetary and there is no minimum threshold below which the law does not apply.
c) Bribe foreign public officials (section 6 of the Act)
In addition to the general offence of offering, promising or giving a bribe, there is also a specific offence of bribing a foreign public official. Bribes to public officials may be referred to as facilitation payments.
The Bribery Act also introduced a new corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery by persons associated with it (section 7 of the Act). In addition, if senior officers were to allow bribery to take place within the University, this would be an offence under section 14 of the Act.
Improper performance is a failure to perform a function or activity in good faith, impartially or in accordance with a position of trust. This can include not performing the function at all, performing it incompletely, or only performing it in return for facilitation payments. In deciding whether a function or activity has been performed improperly outside the UK, the Bribery Act directs that any local custom or practice must be disregarded unless it is permitted or required by the written law of the country in which it is performed.