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Roger Spence on the changes to the Bribery Act 2010

9th August 2011

The Ministry of Justice has published new guidance on the procedures commercial organisations need to put in place to ensure they fully comply with The Bribery Act 2010, which came into force on July 1 2011.

One of the main issues for commercial organisations is to ensure they have an adequate anti-bribery procedure in place that all employees and associates should follow. This procedure, if adequate, will provide a defence to the company if it is charged with failing to prevent bribery.

The guidance sets out six guiding principles commercial organisations should follow in order to prevent persons associated with them from committing bribery. These are:

• Proportionate procedures
• Top-level commitment
• Risk assessment
• Due diligence
• Communication
• Monitoring and review

It is stressed in the guidance that the principles are not prescriptive and that the individual organisations will require different procedures dependent upon the risk of potential bribery that the individual company faces.

For example, a small commercial organisation with five employees based in one office may feel the risk of bribery is quite small and it is adequate for a team meeting to discuss the new procedures, followed up by a written note of the procedures.

On the other hand, a large commercial organisation which carries out work in foreign jurisdictions will require much more robust measures, involving detailed procedures which can be viewed by all employees and associates, typically available within the staff handbook.

Regardless of the size of your business it is imperative to ensure compliance with the new statutory rules by undertaking a risk assessment and introducing anti-bribery procedures.

Roger Spence
Harrison Drury Solicitors 

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