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Corruption and Conflicts of Interest

Corruption and Conflicts of Interest

A Comparative Law Approach

Studies in Comparative Law and Legal Culture series

Edited by Jean-Bernard Auby, Emmanuel Breen and Thomas Perroud

As in all periods of swift economic development and political upheaval, our era of globalization has brought corruption and conflicts of interest into the spotlight. This comprehensive study highlights the difficulties of devising global legislative and judicial responses to these issues.

Chapter 11: Corruption and conflicts of interests in the United Kingdom

Cecily Rose

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, constitutional and administrative law, corruption and economic crime, public international law


The UK government largely deals with corruption and conflicts of interest as separate phenomena, with some important exceptions that this chapter explores. The UK's Serious Fraud Office ('SFO') serves as the lead agency in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for the investigation of domestic and overseas corruption, and it enforces the UK's Bribery Act 2010. The SFO appears to have adopted a somewhat questionable understanding of how corruption and conflicts of interest relate to one another. The SFO's relatively sparse website includes, among other things, some definitions of 'corruption-related terms', including 'bribery' and 'conflict of interest,' although the website does not actually provide a clear definition of corruption itself. According to the SFO, bribery refers to 'giving or receiving something of value to influence a transaction', while conflict of interest refers to a situation in which an 'employee has an economic or personal interest in a transaction.' The SFO also provides definitions of an assortment of other corruption-related conduct, namely illegal gratuity, extortion, kickback, corporate espionage, and commission/fee. The SFO's small glossary of corruption-related terms could be taken to suggest that corruption serves as an umbrella concept that covers a wide range of conduct, including conflicts of interest, and some academic commentary supports this view. Yet, this understanding of the relationship between corruption and conflicts of interest is not necessarily the most persuasive.

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