• 'Offers an impressive breadth of expertise in financial crime.' Chambers UK 2016
  • 'QEB Hollis Whiteman ‘richly deserves its reputation for handling corporate crime work.’  Legal 500 2016
  • 'Regularly sought out to handle high-profile matters.' Chambers UK 2017

Bribery & Corruption

A renowned set with a well-deserved reputation in Business Crime, our deep bench of very talented Barristers has a formidable track record for handling major Bribery and Corruption.


In the past few years, there has been a significant change in the way in which Prosecuting Authorities have dealt with Allegations of Commercial Crime. These changes have coincided with an increase in Charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and have included:

  • the availability of ‘blockbuster’ funding for the SFO to 'take on very big Cases';
  • the introduction of Deferred Prosecution Agreements for Corporates;
  • encouragement of self-reporting and whistle-blowing;
  • offering Immunity from Prosecution in return for giving evidence;
  • formalised Plea-Bargaining Arrangements; and
  • Global Settlements to ensure international resolution.

The Bribery Act 2010 has added to the prosecutorial armoury. It abolished the UK’s entire framework of Anti-Corruption Legislation and economically replaced it with a modern and comprehensive law, identifying particular Offences of Paying (or Offering) a Bribe, Accepting a Bribe or Bribing a Foreign Public Official, with a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Controversially, the Act extended the liability of a Corporation and rendered a Corporate Entity guilty if anyone acting on its behalf bribes another anywhere in the world. This has radically overhauled the law on Corporate Liability and extended the jurisdiction of the UK Courts. Although the Offence is one of Strict Liability, there is a defence for the Commercial Organisation to show it had adequate procedures in place to prevent Persons associated with it from committing Bribery Offences.

QEB Hollis Whiteman has been at the forefront of these changes and the Cases arising from them.

Our Experience

As established leaders in this field, QEB Hollis Whiteman has considerable experience in advising, prosecuting and defending in the most high-profile Domestic and Foreign Bribery and Corruption Cases. Members of Chambers were instructed in the first two Deferred Prosecution Agreements entered into in the UK and act, both defending and prosecuting, in many of the largest Cases conducted by the Serious Fraud Office, including Rolls-Royce. In addition, Mark Ellison KC, was instructed by the Home Secretary to carry out an Independent Review of undercover policing and possible Police Corruption connected to the Stephen Lawrence Case.

Chambers and its Members are consistently ranked as leaders in this field by the profession's Legal Directories. We provide expert strategic advice at every stage of an Investigation and Prosecution, including on Best Compliance, Remedial Action and whether to Self-Report or not. Acutely aware of the potential reputational damage to Professionals and Companies that Allegations of Bribery & Corruption can have, we work closely with our Professional Clients to ensure that Cases are handled with the utmost sensitivity.

Members of Chambers have also been called upon to comment on the advent of new legislation, providing a Contributing Author to two Leading Practitioners’ texts; ‘Bribery; Law and Practice’ and ‘The Blackstone’s Guide to the Bribery Act 2010’, published by the Oxford University Press. We are truly leaders in the field.

Notable Cases

Airbus Group: SFO Investigation into Allegations of Fraud, Bribery & Corruption

Balfour Beatty: First Civil Recovery Order imposed by the SFO

Anthony Bogdin: Local Authority Corruption

Bruce Hall: Corruption Offences worth US$40million

Cash for Honours: Acting for a Central Figure in the 'Cash for Honours' Investigation

GlaxoSmithKline: SFO Investigation into GlaxoSmithKline plc and its Subsidiaries

Innospec: Landmark ‘Global Corporate Settlement’ Case involving Overseas Corruption

Mabey & Johnson: SFO Prosecution leading to first-ever ‘Serious Fraud Plea Agreement’

Millennium Dome Corruption Case: Defending a Lighting Expert

MOL: Representing Hungarian Energy Group in arbitration relating to claims of Bribery by Croatia’s former Prime Minister

Rolls-Royce: SFO Investigation into Allegations of Bribery & Corruption

Securency: SFO Prosecution for Making Corrupt Payments to a Foreign Official

Smith & Ouzman: Acquittal in SFO Prosecution for alleged Corruption Offences involving nearly half a million pounds

Standard Bank: Landmark Case culminating in the UK’s first DPA and use of s7 Bribery Act 2010

Stephen Lawrence: Independent Review of undercover policing by Mark Ellison QC, instructed by the Home Secretary

Swift Oil: Acquittal of three former Executives of an International Group of Companies on Corruption Charges involving Nigerian Government Officials

Tobiasen: The first-ever Prosecution for Overseas Bribery

XYZ Ltd: Second Deferred Prosecution Agreement in England and Wales

Recent Cases

Polly Dyer appears in Seychelles legal first

Polly Dyer appeared before the Supreme Court of the Seychelles in respect of an application to...

R v Rivera (2022)

Sean Larkin QC is instructed by the SFO to prosecute an oil trader accused of defrauding his...



The not so long arm of the law - the Supreme Court's decision in R (on the application of KBR, Inc) v Serious Fraud Office [2021] UKSC 2

A Briefing Note by Jason Mansell and Kathryn Hughes . In a long-awaited judgment, the Supreme Court has unanimously rejected the Serious Fraud Office’s (“ SFO ”) claim that its powers under s.2(3) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987...

Confiscation During Covid

Polly Dyer co-authored an article, now featured by the Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association. The article provides a review of confiscation judgments from the first six months of 2020.  It can be read here ....

R v Manning: Sentencing considered during the period of the pandemic

Philip Stott considers R - v -  Manning and the observations of the Lord Chief Justice on sentencing during Covid-19 A recent ‘unduly lenient’ sentencing reference to the Court of Appeal – R v Manning – provided an opportunity...

Criminal Courts: Coping with Covid-19

Edmund Smith  of  Kingsley Napley  and  Kerry Broome  of QEB Hollis Whiteman review how the administration of criminal justice has changed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and what this might mean for the future.  ...

Using impact statements for business in corporate and financial criminal cases

Nicholas Griffin QC and Kyan Pucks outline the benefits of corporate crime practitioners utilising ISBs in the interest of their clients. The article which was published by LexisNexis can be viewed here .   ...