The Bribery Act - what your business needs to know

The Bribery Act 2010 (‘the Act’) imposes criminal sanctions (including a prison term of up to 10 years and an unlimited fine) on those who commit acts of bribery. An illegal act of bribery can have profound consequences on a business, reaching from an employee, right up to management and shareholders.

The offences

It is an offence under the Act to:

  • offer, promise or give a financial advantage to another person (i.e. bribe a person), whether within the UK or abroad, with the intention of inducing or rewarding improper conduct;
  • request, agree to receive or accept a financial or other advantage (i.e. receive a bribe) for, or in relation to, improper conduct; and,
  • fail to prevent bribery.

As well as incurring sanctions under the Act, businesses may also suffer effects such as damage to reputation, loss of recurring business and prevention from entering into certain types of contract in the future.

Steps to take

There is a wealth of guidance which discusses what businesses can do to mitigate the risks of bribery occurring. Actions that can be taken to safeguard against committing offences include:

  • having proportionate anti-bribery procedures in place;
  • ensuring top-level/management commitment to preventing bribery;
  • carefully assessing the risks faced by your company;
  • clearly communicating your anti-bribery policy to employees and clients;
  • continually monitoring and reviewing your approach to anti-bribery compliance.

If proper anti-bribery policies are implemented, and continual measures are taken to ensure compliance, potential offences under the Act can be easily spotted and avoided.

How we can help

The commercial department at Hartley & Worstenholme have prepared and implemented bespoke anti-bribery policies for a number of business clients since the Act was introduced.

Concept Handtufting Limited, a producer of luxury handmade carpets and rugs and client since its incorporation, approached the department to question whether it should have an anti-bribery policy in place. Chris Wilton, Senior Partner of Hartley & Worstenholme drew up a tailored policy for Concept Handtufting and gave advice on how to ensure the company continued to comply with the Act. Managing director Charles Lawton had this to say about Chris’ work:

“As we continue to increase our operations both domestically and internationally, I thought it best to ensure that we trade in compliance with the Bribery Act. Chris’ ability to tailor a policy specifically to our needs has enabled us to identify potential risks under the Bribery Act, and has helped us safeguard against them. The firm’s provision of clear, practical advice has been invaluable to us in this area.”

To find out more about anti-bribery and how Hartley & Worstenholme can help you stay on the right side of the Bribery Act 2010, contact Chris Wilton on 01977 732222.

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BBC Radio Leeds with Meg Andrews

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