26 November 2008 | Paul Snell
The Law Commission has recommended that the government replace the "patchwork" of offences for bribery with simpler legislation.
In its report Reforming Bribery, the Commission said the multitude of offences under common law should be replaced by two general offences - one for giving bribes, and another for receiving them. It said the current law was "outdated" and "in some instances unfit for purpose".
It follows a report published earlier this month by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which condemned the "systemic deficiencies" in the UK's approach to tackle bribery and corruption (Web news, 6 November).
The Law Commission review also called for a separate offence of bribing a foreign public official to be established. In addition, it proposed the introduction of a corporate bribery law, which would make a firm responsible for the actions of its employees.
Jeremy Horder, who led the review, said it was crucial the law prevented the temptation for staff "to resort to bribery to secure business".
Justice secretary Jack Straw welcomed the recommendations. "Bribery is a cancer which destroys the integrity, accountability and honesty that underpins ethical standards in both public life and the business community," he said in a statement. "The government will carefully consider the Commission's recommendations and build on them to bring forward a draft bill for pre-legislative scrutiny in the next session."