The Bribery Act 2010 comes into force on 1 July 2011. The Act introduces wide-ranging definitions of acts that may constitute a “bribe”, which may include acts performed outside the UK by non-UK nationals. Under Section 7 of the Act organisations may avoid liability for the acts of employees, officers and agents if they can demonstrate that “adequate procedures” were in place to prevent unlawful conduct.
The Act was originally intended to come into force in April 2011 but implementation was delayed amidst criticism of the first draft guidance for failure to provide examples relevant to the majority of UK business.
Regardless of size, all organisations should consider their potential for exposure to bribery and put in place appropriate policies and procedures to manage the risks. Preventative measures adopted to take advantage of the Section 7 “adequate procedures” defence should be proportionate to the level of risk of bribery identified; depending on the size and nature of the organisation, measures may include further clarifying the authorities of procurement departments; amendments to standard terms of business; introduction/amendment of corporate hospitality policies; amendments to employment contracts; whistle blowing and disciplinary policies; and staff training programmes. Organisations must demonstrate top-level commitment to compliance with the Act, for example by designation of a director with responsibility to report regularly to the Board on ongoing compliance activities.