Section 7 of the 2010 Bribery Act came into force in April 2011 and introduces a new offence, whereby an organisation is guilty of an offence if a person associated with it bribes another person, intending to obtain or retain business or a business advantage. There is a defence if the organisation proves that it had in place adequate procedures designed to prevent those associated with it from undertaking such conduct.
What can you do to try and prevent bribery, and therefore liability under section 7?
- Risk assessment. An organisation must regularly assess and understand the risks of corruption that it faces. It can then consider the suitability and effectiveness of anti-bribery measures and determine the resources necessary to implement them.
- Appoint a compliance officer whose role is to ensure that the anti bribery measures are in place.
- Top level commitment. It is the owner and managers of a small organisation who should establish a culture in which bribery is never acceptable. They should make appropriate statements to that effect, setting out the consequences of breaching anti-corruption policies and procedures, and publicly communicate these.
- Due diligence. Carrying out risk-based due diligence on an organisation’s business partners is an essential aspect of managing the risks of bribery. Such background checks should help identify bribery risks and enable the organisation to take preventative measure
- Clear, practical and accessible policies. Policies will be a statement of an organisation's stance. Policies are likely to include a statement of the organisation's commitment to bribery prevention and set out the general approach to reducing bribery risks and give guidance on making political contributions, charitable contributions, gifts, hospitality and expenses.
- Clear, practical and accessible procedures. The procedure should set out what an employee should do, how they should report any concerns, and to whom.
- An anti-corruption code of conduct should apply to the entire workforce and:
- Expressly prohibit all forms of corruption.
- Explain why it is necessary to prohibit corruption (setting out the moral case as well as the legal risks).
- Commit the organisation to conduct its business and affairs so as to ensure that it does not engage in or facilitate any form of corruption.
- Give guidance on what action should be taken when faced with blackmail or extortion, including a clear escalation process and outline expected standards of behaviour and emphasise individual accountability.
Effective implementation. Policies and procedures must be properly implemented and connected to the organisation’s management framework. Internally, for example, on the organisation's intranet site, on notice boards, and in the employees' handbook.