The Bribery Act – 5 years on..

 By Chris Cartmell

July 2016 marks the fifth anniversary of the UK Bribery Act 2010 (the Act) and the government’s overhaul of the law on bribery and corporate criminal liability by the introduction of the new corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery (section 7 of the Act). To celebrate this anniversary, throughout July we’ll be looking at some key issues raised by the Act including:

  • An overview of the Act:  a refresher of the law
    We review the changes that the Act introduced and the impact this has had on commercial organisations.
  • What have we learnt: Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) and convictions
    We’ll  look at the lessons we can draw from the application of the Act by reviewing the recent DPA and enforcement action under the Act.
  • Lessons that still need to be learnt: a lack of clarity
    As the Act has only been in force  for five years, there is still a lot more to learn about its enforcement and what changes commercial organisations need to continue to make in order to manage their bribery and corruption risk.
  • The future of the Act: a continued focus on tackling financial crime
    A look at future trends including increased cooperation between global enforcement agencies and the proposed extension of section 7 of the Act.
  • FAQs/ questions from our readers
    We’ll look at  some FAQs clients have asked us over the last five years and any questions submitted by you the readers of this blog.

An overview of the Act: a refresher of the law

What does the Act say?
Section 7 of the Act states that a commercial organisation is guilty of bribery if a person associated with the organisation bribes someone else with the intention of obtaining or retaining business for the organisation, or obtaining or retaining an advantage in the conduct of business. This applies to the conduct of associated parties anywhere in the world, as long as the commercial organisation undertakes business in whole or in part in the UK.

There is a defence available if the organisation can show that it had “adequate procedures” in place to prevent such bribery taking place. There is no set policy or procedure to fulfil the requirement of “adequate procedures” as it is for each organisation to assess their risk and put in place systems and controls to manage the identified risks.  Further discussion on adequate procedures will follow in next week’s blog post.

Why is the Act important?
It is not only a driver to ensure that organisations have implemented the right policies and procedures, but also ensures that a culture of ethical conduct is developed and maintained within organisations.  As such, in the past five years, companies have spent time understanding their businesses and their associated parties in order to assess risk areas and develop a culture of compliance supported by robust policies and procedures to further mitigate any risks.

Nevertheless, recent cases demonstrate how companies still need to ensure that any measures in place to prevent bribery are robust and are implemented correctly through communication and training.  The penalties under the Act are severe as they range from unlimited fines up to ten years imprisonment and debarment from tendering for European public contracts.

For further detail and guidance on whether your organisation is at risk and how we can help, read this article.

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