The Eric Whitehead Partnership

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The Bribery Act 2010, which came into force on 1st July, creates wide ranging new criminal offences which will affect not only individuals, but also their employers.  Employers therefore need to be aware of the potential offences and take action to ensure that they do not fall foul of the new laws.

The Act creates four main offences, namely making bribes, receiving bribes, bribing a foreign public official and the failure of a commercial organisation to prevent bribery.

The main danger area for employers is failing to prevent bribery by not only its employees but also its suppliers, consultants, agency workers and the like.  Employers will therefore be responsible for the actions of a wide range of individuals, some of whom they will have very little control over.

Thankfully, a defence will be available to those employers which can prove that they had in place adequate procedures designed to prevent bribery.  In that regard, the Ministry of Justice has formulated six suggested principles which should be followed by employers, as follows:-

1. Employers should have in place clear anti corruption and anti bribery policies accessible to all.  Policies on gifts and hospitality should be clarified and reviewed.

2. Senior members of the company, such as Directors and Senior Management need to be openly committed to preventing bribery and this stance should be communicated to all employees.

3. Employers must carry out a risk assessment to ensure that they are able to properly assess the nature and extent of the bribery risk to their company.

4. Employers should take steps to ensure that they know who they are doing business with, ie by carrying out due diligence.

5. Employers should properly communicate their anti bribery policies and should carry out appropriate training.

6. Employers should monitor and review their anti bribery policies on a regular basis.

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