The UK and Bribery: Action Needed

The new corporate crime of failing to prevent bribery only has one defence – that the company had adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. And the Act has a wide international reach: it is not confined to business operations in the UK.

So it is surprising that a recent Ernst & Young survey found that 72 per cent of middle managers were unaware of the Bribery Act. This lack of awareness is reflected in May’s web poll by Deloitte & Touche, which found over 75 per cent of executives either didn’t have or didn’t know about any change in policy following the passing of the Act.

The law is similar to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and both affect companies around the world, and not just within the US or UK borders. The breaking banking corruption scandals demonstrate that prosecutors are pursuing corruption cases increasingly fiercely on both sides of the Atlantic. And in the Deloitte poll, most respondents thought prosecutions of executives would increase as the year progresses.

So one year on, it’s time for companies to make sure they have a good anti-corruption code in place, that they are carrying out robust procedures for preventing corruption, and protecting themselves both from corrupt practices and the consequences of prosecution.

A year ago, ContractStore in conjunction with GovRisk (the International Governance & Risk Institute) launched a Bribery Act Code of Conduct template to address these changes and aid companies in making the first step and putting a relevant policy in place.