• Research Briefing

    Bribery allegations and BAE Systems

    BAE Systems was accused of corruption, specifically making bribes, in regard to the Al Yamamah arms agreement with the Saudi Arabian Government. This was investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) following the leaking of a letter from the then Director of the SFO to the former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence. The SFO discontinued its inquiry in December 2006, citing the need to safeguard national and international security, a move which was supported by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair. A legal challenge that the SFO's decision was unlawful was not successful. In addition to the allegations surrounding Al Yamamah, parallel SFO investigations were also conducted into a number of other BAE defence contracts in South Africa, Chile, the Czech Republic, Romania, Tanzania and Qatar. In February 2010, BAE Systems reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to plead guilty of conspiring to make false statements to the US Government in connection with certain regulatory filings and undertakings, including the Al Yamamah agreement as well as contracts with the Hungarian and Czech governments. In March 2010, BAE Systems pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States by impairing and impeding its lawful functions, to make false statements about its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance program, and to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations. It was given a $400 million fine and agreed to take measures in order to stay within US and foreign laws concerning corruption and the exports of arms. The company also agreed to retain an independent compliance monitor for three years to assess its compliance program and to make a series of reports to the company and the DoJ. This Standard Note is referred to in the Research Paper, The Bribery Bill (RP 10/19).

  • Research Briefing

    Grocery Market Ombudsman Bill [Bill 18 of 2009-10]

    The Bill would establish an independent ombudsman for the grocery market to oversee the operation of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice. It would provide for the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), within three months of the Bill's enactment, to establish the Office of the Grocery Market Ombudsman and a person as the Grocery Market Ombudsman. Although funded by the OFT, the Ombudsman would be independent of it and would investigate complaints or disputes referred by the OFT, retailers or suppliers. The Ombudsman's determination would be final and binding on all parties and they would have the power to impose monetary penalties and/or costs.

  • Research Briefing

    Bribery Bill [HL] Bill No 69

    The purpose of the Bill is to provide a modern and comprehensive scheme of bribery offences to equip prosecutors and courts to deal effectively with bribery in the UK and abroad. It replaces old and fragmented legislation with a modern and consolidated bribery law. The Bill creates offences of offering, promising or giving of a bribe and requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting of a bribe either in the UK or abroad, in the public or private sectors. It also creates a discrete offence of bribery of a foreign public official in order to obtain or retain business, and a new offence in relation to commercial organisations which fail to prevent a bribe being paid by those who perform services for or on behalf of the organisation.

  • Research Briefing

    Co-operative & Community Benefit Societies and Credit Unions Bill [HL] Bill No. 50

    The Bill requires new industrial and provident societies (other than credit unions) to be registered as co-operative or community benefit societies, re-names the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, and applies the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 to industrial and provident societies. The Bill also gives the Treasury powers to apply company law on the investigation of companies, company names and dissolution and restoration to the register, to industrial and provident societies, and to make provisions for credit unions corresponding to any provisions applying to building societies.

  • Research Briefing

    Financial Services Bill : Committee Stage Report

    This is a report on the Committee Stage of the Bill. The Bill creates a Council for Financial Stability to co-ordinate the responsibilities and action of the Bank of England, Financial Services Authority (FSA) and Treasury with respect to financial stability. It also provides for collective consumer legal action to be taken in cases of multiple claimants against financial companies. The key debate at Committee Stage was on the structure of the regulatory system and the establishment of the Council for Financial Stability. One Government amendment was made to the Bill, which emphasised that the Bill had no retrospective impact upon executive remuneration contracts.

  • Research Briefing

    Competition and the banking crisis

    This note sets out to: provide information on state aid rules and assistance to the financial sector; explain some of the competition concerns relating to the banking crisis; and set out briefly the powers of the competition authorities to address such concerns.

  • Research Briefing

    Flood and Water Management Bill. Bill 9 2009-10.

    There has been growing pressure to introduce legislation to address the threat of flooding and water scarcity—both are predicted to increase with climate change. The Government published a draft Flood and Water Management Bill in April 2009, and the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee undertook pre-legislative scrutiny of the document. The Committee welcomed a number of the proposals, but it was concerned that a lack of parliamentary time would undermine the introduction of a comprehensive Bill. The Government introduced a slimmed-down version of the Bill on 19 November 2009. Key features include measures to: require the Environment Agency to create a National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy, which a number of organisations will have to follow; require lead local flood authorities to create Local Flood Risk Management Strategies; enable the Environment Agency and local authorities more easily to carry out flood risk management works; introduce a more risk-based approach to reservoir management; change the arrangements that would apply should a water company go into administration; enable water companies more easily to control non-essential uses of water, such as the use of hosepipes; enable water companies to offer concessions to community groups for surface water drainage charges; require the use of sustainable drainage systems in certain new developments; and, introduce a mandatory build standard for sewers.

  • Research Briefing

    Financial Services Bill. Bill 6 2009-10.

    This is the third piece of financial services legislation since 2007 to respond to the banking and financial crisis. It does however, include other measures designed to improve the position of financial services customers. It creates a Council for Financial Stability to co-ordinate the responsibilities and action of the Bank, FSA and Treasury with respect to financial stability matters. It enhances and extends the powers of the FSA and gives it new duties. Lastly, amongst other consumer protection measures, it provides for collective consumer legal action to be taken in cases of multiple claimants against financial companies. The Bill applies to the whole of the UK.

  • Research Briefing

    Newspaper and magazine distribution agreements: competition issues

    This note explains the competition issues associated with newspaper and magazine distribution agreements including: whether the distribution agreements which restrict distribution territories are compatible with competition law; the decision to let the National Newspaper Code of Practice lapse; and the OFT's September 2009 decision not to refer the sector to the Competition Commission