Bribery Act 2010 – have you reviewed your policies and procedures?

When the Bribery Act finally comes into force on 1 July 2011 it will be the most substantial change to the UK’s corruption laws since 1916. The Bribery Act creates a new offence for commercial organisations. This is a key development for companies and other commercial organisations as an organisation will be guilty of an offence where a person “associated” with it bribes another person to obtain business or a business advantage.

Why is the new Act relevant to procurement?
The new Act is relevant not just to the “sales” side of businesses, but also to procurement, where those involved in tendering, purchasing, and procurement need to be aware of what might constitute the receipt of a bribe (and therefore an offence) under the new legislation.

Importantly, the commercial organisation will be presumed guilty if they do not have “adequate procedures” in place designed to prevent bribery.

What should we be doing?
Businesses should put in place “adequate procedures” now to minimise the risk of criminal prosecution when the Act comes into force. Your adequate procedures should set out clearly your company’s approach to, amongst other things, the giving and receiving of corporate hospitality and the rules governing your procurement processes (which may need to be updated to reflect the new laws).

How can Brodies help?
Our Regulatory Compliance team can help your organisation to plan for the Bribery Act, for example by assisting with the development of internal policies and providing training to help ensure your business is protected when the Act comes into force. If you would like to discuss this further then please send me an email or get in touch with your usual TIO Group contact.

For more information, see my colleague Susheela Math’s blog post over on Brodies’ PublicLawBlog, or our Regulatory Compliance team’s recent legal update.

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