Combating Foreign Bribery: Legislative Reform in the United Kingdom and Prospects for Increased Global Enforcement

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Foreign bribery represents a serious impediment to global prosperity and development.  For decades, the United States remained one of the few industrialized nations to combat this threat, criminalizing the payment of bribes abroad under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  In recent years, however, as the United States has strengthened its enforcement efforts, other nations have begun drafting anti-bribery legislation based on the American model; the United Kingdom is perhaps the most significant example of this trend.  After facing international criticism for its failure to prosecute bribery of foreign officials by British companies, the U.K. government passed a new Bribery Act that in many ways mirrors the provisions of the FCPA.  It remains to be seen, however, if simply exporting and expanding on the American model will prove sufficient to sustain increased international enforcement of anti-bribery norms.  This Note traces the development of British anti-bribery law over the past decade, analyzing and critiquing the recently adopted U.K. Bribery Act in comparison to the FCPA and discussing the prospects for continued global enforcement under both legislative regimes.