Bungs, business and bribery – report reveals startling levels of unawareness of the Bribery Act

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Posted in:Corporate and Commercial, HR and Employment, Litigation|January 8, 2013 | Join the mailing list

The Bribery Act has now been in force for over 18 months, but a recent report by Ernst and Young has revealed that many businesses are still unaware of this key piece of legislation and of the risks they are running with regard to it.

The Ernst & Young report, released on 2nd January 2013, has revealed that only 56% of businesses have heard of the Bribery Act and that in the North of England a startling 78% of businesses remain unaware of it.

These findings are hugely significant, as if an employee or agent of an organisation pays a bribe in order to get business, keep business or gain a business advantage, then the organisation itself could be prosecuted and convicted unless
it can show that it had "adequate procedures" in place to prevent bribery. Ignorance of the Bribery Act and ignorance of the fact that the bribery was going on will be no defence – it’s having those adequate procedures in place that is key.

The procedures for preventing bribery which a business will need to have in place in order to escape liability will differ according to the level of risk of bribery occurring and the nature, size and complexity of the business in question.
Larger organisations or those which operate in industry sectors where financial corruption is a real possibility will need to do more than other businesses where the risk of encountering bribery is less. However, all businesses, large and small, need to be
aware of the anti-bribery legislation and need to put some measures in place to reduce the risk of bribery by their employees or agents occurring.

One key way of reducing the risk to your business is by having in place a properly drafted policy on anti-bribery and corruption, making clear to your employees and agents what types of conduct must not be engaged in. It’s also crucial to
ensure that this policy is effectively communicated to the people who work for you and one of the best ways to do this is by means of regular training sessions, highlighting areas of risk and what types of conduct are prohibited. Even the best drafted policy
will be of little use if all it does is sit in the drawer or remained tucked away in your staff handbook or on your intranet.

One area which can often cause confusion in relation to the anti-bribery legislation is whether it means that it’s unlawful for businesses to host corporate hospitality events, such as sports matches or meals with clients or suppliers. The
answer to this is that reasonable levels of corporate hospitality are not contrary to the legislation, but once again having a policy in place and training your staff and agents in its use will help them stay on the right side of the line when it comes to
what’s reasonable.

The Berg employment team can assist you in drawing up an anti-bribery and corruption policy that meets the needs of your business. We also have considerable experience in delivering training sessions to provide you and your workforce with
the guidance you need in this area. For more information, please contact Nigel Crebbin or Claire Haworth on 0161 833 9211 or email us atnigelc@berg.co.uk or
The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Berg or any of its partners or employees. Professional legal advice should
be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

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Much more informative and interesting than just presenting the key facts. Good quickfire key HR & legislative updates.

Michelle Parkes, Hebden Green School

"We know that we can rest assured that Stephen Foster and his team will protect our business interests"

Corporate Client, Anonymous