The Bribery Act 2010 modernises the law on bribery. It came into force on 1st July 2011.
Bribery can be defined as giving someone a financial or other advantage to encourage that person to perform their functions or activities improperly or to reward that person for having already done so. This could cover seeking to influence the decision maker by giving some kind of extra benefit to that decision maker rather than by what can be legitimately be offered as part of a tender process.
In his foreword to the guidance, the Secretary of State for Justice said “addressing bribery is good for business because it creates the conditions for free markets to flourish. Everyone agrees bribery is wrong and that rules need reform. In implementing this Act we are striking a blow for the rule of law and growth of trade”.
Contrary to some early fears it is not the intention of the Bribery Act 2010 to outlaw any form of hospitality and proportionate hospitality is not outlawed in any way. As stated in the guidance “rest assured – no-one wants to stop firms getting to know their clients by taking them to events like Wimbledon or the Grand Prix”. However, the key word in this is “proportionate” and so care must still be taken when considering what hospitality to offer or to receive.
Your organisation could be liable if a senior person in the organisation commits a bribery offence. You could also be liable if somebody who performs a service for your organisation pays a bribe specifically to obtain business, keep business or gain a business advantage for you. To defend yourself against any possible claim of bribery you need to show that your organisation has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. What counts as “adequate” depends on the risk you actually face. An assessment of risk would include the nature, size and complexity of your business.
The Act sets out six principles which you will need to consider when assessing risk and your response to that risk.
Lawson Lewis Blakers can advise you in relation to all aspects of the Bribery Act and can assist you by:-
- Helping you assess the risk faced by your organisation.
- Drafting policies and procedures for your organisation.
- Running training courses for you.
- Advising you generally to ensure that you are protected from the consequences of this legislation.