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Bribery Act Guidance Published

21 April 2011

Roythornes LLP

After much delay and rumour the Government has just published its long-awaited guidance on the bribery Act.  The Act, which was due to come in to force in April will now come in to force on 1st July 2011.

The guidance notes clarify many of the key areas where businesses and the CBI had raised concerns over how it would work practically and on a day to day basis.

 

It appears that the implementation of the Act will take a pragmatic and practical approach.

 

The Serious fraud Office have also issued guidance on when they would consider prosecution which set out the parameters of the public interest test for prosecuting each offence under the Act.  In particular they have focused on two of the key areas of concern for businesses – facilitation payments and corporate hospitality.

 

Facilitation payments

 

These small payments to ensure someone does their job are caught by the Act and were always illegal. The only help being offered to businesses who trade in markets where such payments are commonplace is that the SFO may not decide to prosecute.

 

Key issues which will affect the public interest decision on whether to prosecute include large or repeated payments, planned payments, or those accepted as a standard way of conducting business (pre-meditation) and those which are in clear breach of robust company policies.

 

If payments are small, or self reported to the SFO, or made by those in a vulnerable position will tend towards a public interest decision not to prosecute.

 

Corporate hospitality


The main rule is that businesses must exercise common sense. When it feels like a bribe then it probably is one. Where a gift or hospitality is extraordinary or lavish, or has the ability to influence or reward improper performance by the recipient it will probably be caught by the Act, but small gifts at inappropriate times could also be caught.

 

What do businesses need to do?

 

The light touch regulation foreseen by the new guidance approach does not mean that businesses can ignore the Act. 

 

They must all put in place measures to prevent those associated with them from using bribery to benefit the business. These will include:- 

  • Show a top level commitment to preventing bribery.
  • Carry out a risk assessment.
  • Put in place appropriate policies.
  • Carry out due diligence on the people you work with.
  • Communicate your policy to your staff and business partners.
  • Train your staff on your policies and their obligations.
  • Monitor and review your policy and how it is being implemented.

The guidance, which includes case studies can be found here:

 

http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/bribery.htm

 

For further information on the Act and how it may affect your business contact Andrew Shipley at Roythornes on 0115 445 4410 or email andrewshipley@roythornes.co.uk

 

Alternatively, find out more from Andrew about the steps your business needs to take by joining us at emita’s ‘Important New Support for Exporters and Bribery Act Update’ seminar on Tuesday 17 May at Holywell Park, Loughborough. Please click here for more details.

 

 

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