This checklist outlines the offences introduced by the Bribery Act 2010 and the penalties for committing them. It also highlights practical steps that your business can take to help avoid breaching the legislation.
Transparency International (a non-governmental anti-corruption organisation) defines bribery as “the offering, promising, giving, accepting or soliciting of an advantage as an inducement for an action which is illegal or a breach of trust.”
The Bribery Act 2010 was introduced to strengthen the existing bribery and corruption laws in the UK. The Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had repeatedly criticised the UK system for being weak and ineffective compared with the more robust regimes in other countries, such as the US Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act.
Bribing another person:
- to bring about improper performance of a relevant function or an activity; or
- to reward a person for the improper performance of a relevant function or an activity.
- all functions of a public nature;
- all activities connected with a business;
- any activity performed in the course of a person’s employment; and
- any activity performed by or on behalf of a body of persons.
This is where the person performing the function is expected to perform it in good faith or impartially or is in a position of trust by virtue of performing it. The function will be covered even if it has no connection with the UK or is performed outside the UK.
Bribing a foreign public official:
Failing to prevent bribery:
Small and medium-sized enterprises inevitably have fewer resources to counter bribery than larger companies. However, you can take some straight-forward measures to help prevent your business breaching the legislation.
Top level commitment
Make sure all senior managers and directors understand they could be personally liable under the Bribery Act 2010 for offences committed by the business. It is important that senior management lead the anti-bribery culture of your business, especially if it wants to take advantage of the “adequate procedures” defence to the offence of failing to prevent bribery.
- procurement and supply chain management;
- involvement with regulatory relationships (for example, licences or permits); and
- charitable and political contributions.
Implementing and communicating an anti-corruption code of conduct
You should implement a code of conduct setting out clear, practical and accessible policies and procedures that apply to your entire business. This should be effectively communicated to all relevant persons.
Due diligence when dealing with third parties
Your business will be liable if a person associated with it commits an offence on your behalf. You should review all your relationships with any partners, suppliers and customers. For example, if an agent or distributor uses a bribe to win a contract for your business, you could be liable. You must ensure that background checks are carried out on any agents or distributors before you engage them.
Proportionate policies and procedures
Review any existing policies and procedures your business has on preventing bribery and corruption and decide whether they need to be updated. If you do not have any policies or procedures in place, you should consider preparing them as a matter of urgency. Transparency International has written a guide aimed at small businesses for countering bribery, which includes model corporate anti-bribery policies and programmes (see Transparency international: Business Principles for Countering Bribery). The Ministry of Justice has also published a Quick start guide.
Effective implementation and monitoring