The Bribery Act 2010 has been in force now for nearly three months and the CPS has just brought its first prosecution under the Act; of a court official who allegedly accepted a bribe from a person charged with a motoring offence.
Most businesses will have put in place their documented arrangements, obtained board sign off that these arrangements are adequate and delivered initial training to those likely to be most affected. The latter should include those very obviously on the buy and sell sides of the business.
However, an aspect of adequacy is to ensure that the arrangements are being complied with. Internal rules that are too restrictive (financial limits that are too tight and permission-seeking provisions that place undue demands on senior managers and compliance staff) may be avoided by the business, and that avoidance may create an environment where non-compliance is viewed as being acceptable.
Businesses should consider now how they can satisfy themselves that the arrangements are operating properly. Most systems create paperwork - for example gift registers, the documented grant of permission to exceed authority limits - and ideally these can be scrutinised by internal audit. If that is not practicable it would be wise to carry out some degree of compliance monitoring to ensure that the arrangements are operating on the ground in the manner envisaged.
Compliance staff might also consult the business to obtain their views. It may be that the business is compliant, but that compliance is hampering genuine business development activity or is out of kilter with the approach adopted by more aggressive competitors. In such a case there may be scope to implement a relaxation of controls.