As discussed in our
April article, the Bribery Act (the Act) is
now in force and applies to all companies which operate their
business (or part of their business) in the UK. As a result, to the
extent that companies have not already put in place procedures to
ensure that they comply with the Act, they must now do so as soon
As already mentioned, one of the key new offences under the Act
is the failure of an organisation to prevent bribery; this is a
strict liability offence and the only defence available to
companies is to demonstrate that they have adequate procedures in
place to prevent bribery which are effectively embedded in the
company and monitored.
While 'adequate procedures' is not defined under the
Act, the Ministry of Justice has stated that they expect these to
be 'reasonable and proportionate' to the size of the
company and the risks of bribery that they face; as such, there is
no 'one size fits all' approach to adequate procedures and
each company must carry out its own risk assessment to establish
what is reasonable and proportionate for them.
Adequate procedures can encompass many elements, but could
include an anti-bribery policy, the communication of a zero
tolerance approach to bribery from senior management and thorough
due diligence of third parties acting on behalf of the company
(particularly where the entities are located in high risk
jurisdictions - see Transparency International's Corruption
Finally, much has been made of the effect the Act will have on
corporate hospitality. However, reasonable and proportionate
business hospitality will fall outside the scope of the Act (for
example, taking a client to a sporting event) and companies must
continue to exercise their good judgment and common sense as to
what is proportionate in the circumstances.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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On 12th November 2016, new laws will commence to protect small businesses from unfair terms in standard form contracts.
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