Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Briefing

The Bribery Act: what it means for you

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 06 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6996
  1. Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
  1. 1BMJ, London WC1H 9JR, UK
  1. ClareDyer{at}

The new UK Bribery Act makes recipients of bribes liable for prosecution as well as those offering inducements. Clare Dyer examines the implications for doctors

Lapdancing club outings, centre court tickets at Wimbledon, greyhound racing—these are all treats enjoyed by doctors a few years ago courtesy of one of the UK’s largest drug companies. The company, Abbott Laboratories, was censured by its industry body, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).1 But from April 2011, any company providing such activities could be prosecuted under the new Bribery Act and end up with a criminal conviction. And so could the doctors who took advantage of the hospitality on offer.

What does the Bribery Act do?

The act, which comes into force next April, overhauls the UK’s archaic corruption laws, replacing them with one of the strictest pieces of anticorruption legislation in the world. It is mainly aimed at curbing corporate corruption and creates a new corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery.

So how does it affect doctors?

Not only is it an offence under the act to offer someone a financial or other advantage with the intention to induce that person to perform an action improperly, but it is also an offence to request, agree to receive, …

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