In September the Ministry of Justice published its consultation on guidance for commercial organisations to prevent bribery and draft guidance for the “adequate procedures” defence to the offence of failing to prevent bribery under s.7 of the Bribery Act 2010.

Although the guidance is aimed at businesses of all sizes, it will be of particular assistance to smaller and medium sized commercial organisations which may not previously have addressed this issue. S.7 of the Bribery Act 2010 will come into force in April 2011. It introduces a new offence under which a relevant commercial organisation is guilty of an offence if a person associated with it bribes another person intending to obtain and retain business or a business advantage.

It is a defence for the organisation to prove that it had in place adequate procedures designed to prevent those associated with it from undertaking such conduct. The draft guidance sets out 6 principles that are intended to give all commercial organisations a starting point for implementing a bribery free business regime, namely risk assessment, top level commitment, due diligence, clear and accessible policies, effective information, monitoring and review.