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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The truth about the Bribery Act
Article Type: Corporate law outlook From: Strategic Direction, Volume 28, Issue 1
The Bribery Act 2010 came into force on 1 July 2011, but what does it mean for businesses? Do businesses have to change their procedures or can businesses simply do nothing?
Broadly speaking, either may be true. Most companies that operate within the UK and which act with integrity do not need to get carried away by the act. After all, it is simple is not? If you do not bribe, or accept bribes, your business need not worry.
That is true, but do you know everything every employee does? In all but the smallest businesses the answer to that is probably no, and that is where the danger lies.
If found guilty of bribery, a company can face unlimited fines, negative publicity and find enormous amounts of management time being taken up by dealing with any investigation. This does not even start to factor in any subsequent loss of business because of bad publicity.
So, what can a modern business do to protect itself? It is probably true that no procedures can entirely prevent bribery. If someone wants to commit a crime, they generally will find a way to do it.
However, the act recognizes this and provides some comfort for businesses as it provides a defense to organization’s that implement “adequate procedures” to prevent it.
Before I explain what “adequate procedures” may be, let me first tell you what bribery is. In simple terms, a bribe is an advantage of any kind.
In other words, a bribe does not have to be a suitcase full of cash or an inconspicuous transfer to a Swiss bank account. It could be an iPad or sought after tickets to a football match. That does not mean giving or receiving these types of items will always be a bribe. However, if the advantage is linked to an intention to get someone to do something they might not otherwise do, alarm bells should be ringing.
There are four ways to commit a bribe:
Offering, promising or giving a bribe.
Requesting or agreeing to receive or accept a bribe.
Bribing a public official.
Failing to prevent a bribe (which is the company offence I referred to earlier).
For the most part, the act of bribing must also be linked to someone doing something improperly.
So, what are “adequate procedures”? The truth is that no one is absolutely sure yet. As with all new law, we will have to wait for it to be tested by the Courts. Only then will we truly understand what is adequate.
Helpfully, however, we have been given some guidance on what is likely to be perceived as “adequate”. This includes:
Assessing the risk of a business being involved in bribery.
Showing a commitment to avoiding bribery from management down.
Making sure you know everyone you deal with as well as possible so you can show they are not bribing on your behalf.
Having policies/procedures to ensure your business is not involved in bribery.
In summary, if you own or operate a business, you do not need to panic. But what you do need to do is to consider what, if anything, your business can do to protect itself against the risk of bribery.
If you do not, the consequence could be serious. Let me remind you that an individual found guilty of bribery can face up to ten years in prison and unlimited fines which is certainly food for thought.
If you have any questions about the Bribery Act contact Mark Jones, solicitor in Gordons’ commercial litigation department on 0113 227 0297 or e-mail email@example.com
Notes to editors
An established law firm with offices in Leeds and Bradford, Gordons currently employs 240 people, 180 of which are fee earners. The firm’s turnover for the last financial year was £23.3m and it is one of the UK’s top 100 practices.
Clients include Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc, construction and high performance materials manufacturer Saint Gobain, international brewers Molson Coors, greetings card retailer Card Factory and the world’s largest electrical heating business Glen Dimplex. For more information visit www.gordonsllp.com
© Gordons LLP. Issued on behalf of Gordons LLP by Brand8 PR. For further information please contact Rob Smith. Tel: 0113 394 4580, Mobile: 07840 677534, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark JonesCommercial litigation solicitor at Yorkshire law firm Gordons