Proposed reforms for tackling economic crime, which could expand the ‘failure to prevent’ model in the Bribery Act 2010, have ‘ground to a halt’, a report by an international law firm claims today.

The Ministry of Justice published a consultation on corporate liability for economic crime at the beginning of 2017. Although it closed on 31 March that year, it has yet to respond to the submissions. 

In its ‘Global Anti-Bribery Year-in-Review, published today, international firm WilmerHale said there ‘has been little mention of this issue since’ and that reforms had ‘ground to a halt’. A spokesperson for the MoJ today could only tell the Gazette that the response would be published ‘in due course’.

Meanwhile a House of Lords committee tasked with assessing the effectiveness of the 2010 act is in the process of drawing up its final report.

The committee held several evidence sessions over the past seven months taking evidence from lawyers, judges and prosecutors about how the act is working.

The Gazette understands the report is likely to be published towards the middle or the end of March. The Gazette understands the report could include suggestions on the effectiveness of ‘failure to prevent’ and whether deferred prosecution agreements provide a sufficient incentive for businesses to self-report.

According to the WilmerHale survey, current figures indicate that so far the act has led to little enforcement activity. ‘In the seven years since the act went into force, prosecutors have proceeded against 22 individuals under section 1 (bribing another person) and 13 individuals under section 2 (receiving bribes), while no prosecutions under section 6 (bribery of a foreign public official) have been commenced,’ the report says.

It predicts that, under the Serious Fraud Office's new director Lisa Osofsky, activity will ramp up again over the next few months.