25th October 2011
Bribery Act 2010 - What Should I Do?
The Bribery Act 2010 came into force on 1 July this year and as well as codifying existing law it creates some new offences.
The most onerous new offence created is that of the failure by a commercial organisation (including charities) to prevent bribery. This offence is committed if a person associated with the organisation offers a bribe so as to retain or obtain a commercial advantage. The reasons why this offence is onerous are as follows:
- There could be a large number of people "associated" with the organisation.
- An offence is committed just by offering a bribe. No money needs to change hands.
- It is a strict liability offence meaning no element of negligence needs to be proved for an offence to have been committed.
- An unlimited fine can be imposed.
If a bribe has been made or offered, the main defence for a commercial organisation will be to demonstrate that it had adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.
At the minimum, every commercial organisation (including charities) must assess the risks it faces as a result of the Bribery Act 2010. Subject to that assessment, but in most cases your policies should be updated to cover bribery and to emphasise that you have a zero tolerance approach.
For further information and guidance, you should contact Michael Trigg or Rebecca Miles in our Employment Department.
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