The Ministry of Justice today announced the long awaited Guidance on the UK Bribery Act. The MoJ previously indicated that the Act will come into force three months after the Guidance announcement, however Recommind* argues that Guidance is still leaving companies in the dark about how to prepare for the new legislation.

Howard Sklar, senior corporate counsel at information risk specialist Recommind ( and advisor to the InfoRiskAwareness Project (, has made the following comments:

“For all the time it took for the Ministry of Justice to issue this Guidance, in my opinion, it’s a real disappointment. The most glaring omission is any concrete guidance to companies on how to comply with the Bribery Act when it comes into play later this year.

“As a general proposition, the EU regulatory scheme is principles-based, and the Guidance follows this example. Telling us that hospitality must be reasonable doesn’t move the bar on advice to companies that want to be compliant. The business world is measured down to the pound – sales targets aren’t stated as ‘you have to sell a reasonable amount.’ That kind of guidance just doesn’t resonate with the sales, marketing, and operations folks that compliance officers will need to influence.

“UK companies will have to decide – on a case by case basis – how much hospitality is too much. As a result, compliance will now pervade all aspects of the relationship sales has with customers, and marketing has with sales. Unfortunately, compliance officers are in the same position as they were yesterday: trying to translate the Serious Fraud Office’s murky statements about the coverage of the law into language that the business understands, and trying to formulate policies that don’t unreasonably restrict operations but still don’t run afoul of the Act. In light of this, the guidance just doesn’t guide.”