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Anti-corruption law from a British point of view

For the first and certainly not the last time, I recently flipped through Corruption and Misuse of Public Office. Published by Oxford University Press UK, its authors are four practitioners and a professor (my colleague at the International Anti-Corruption Academy, John Hatchard).

Just as the anti-corruption landscape becomes less and less U.S.-centric, a book that maps that landscape from a non-U.S. perspective grows more important. Corruption and Misuse of Public Office describes international anti-corruption law from a standpoint that puts neither the United States, nor the FCPA, at the center. It’s a British perspective, just when the world really needs one.

After an introductory discussion of corruption and pre-2011 British law, the book gives an in-depth account of the UK Bribery Act -- not as an afterthought to the FCPA, as so often seems implied, but as a free-standing statute that in so many respects sets the global standard for foreign bribery law.

It then provides chapters dedicated to a variety other domestic British anti-corruption laws governing public officials. Ensuing chapters cover investigation, prosecution, and sanctions for British anti-corruption law generally.

After delving into asset recovery under the Proceeds of Crime Act, with numerous case studies from Nigeria, Indonesia, and beyond, it provides comprehensive treatment of international initiatives. UNCAC, OECD, and GRECO, are of course covered, but so are many other regional initiatives that don’t always receive the attention they deserve.

Not until chapter 20, in the section entitled “Corruption Laws of Other Jurisdictions,” do we get to the FCPA. And to this American, for whom humble pie is tasting better and better (good thing, given how often it’s served) seeing the FCPA treated as the law of “other jurisdictions” was quite refreshing. Indeed, the United States is but the first of more than fifteen countries treated. Others include Australia, Canada, India, Brazil, China, and France.

Add in a discussion of offshore financial centers, another on the contributions of civil society organizations, and an excursion into corruption and sport, and you have among the most comprehensive anti-corruption book I, for one, have had the pleasure to peruse.

The book is now in its third edition, and I might make a recommendation for the fourth. Given its focus on both the domestic and foreign anti-corruption laws of the UK and various other countries, limiting the U.S. discussion to the FCPA seems unduly pared down. This is all the more true considering the present and likely future relevance of U.S. law governing the misuse of public office. The book seems to tacitly argue that modern anti-corruption law is bigger than the FCPA; so might its U.S. chapter do the same.

Still, Corruption and Misuse of Public Office is a weighty and comprehensive compendium of anti-corruption law that carries value for the practitioner and the academic alike.

Corruption and Misuse of Public Office (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed.), ISBN 978-0-19-873543-4, is by Colin Nichols, Tim Daniel, Alan Bacarese, James Maton, and John Hatchard.


Andy Spalding chairs the Olympic Compliance Task Force. He is Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law (Virginia, USA), a Frequent Visiting Instructor at the International Anti-Corruption Academy in Austria, and Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog.