London solicitors Mackrell Turner Garrett have produced a free guide advising companies and individuals about the implications of the Bribery Act.
Available to download from mackrell.com, the guide sets out the background of the Act, the current approach of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), steps that need to be taken to avoid liability, response to misconduct and the consequences of prosecution.
Highly controversial when first put to Parliament in 2010, the Act can render any company doing business in the United Kingdom liable to criminal prosecution here for any inducement, by any employees, agents or subsidiaries, if that inducement is either improper in itself or related to improper conduct, whether as incentive or reward.
Crucially, it is immaterial where the company is registered, where most of its business is done, or in which jurisdiction the improper act or inducement occurs.
As such, it is well established now that it is vital for every corporate to have a thorough anti-bribery policy in place.
Self-assessment is at the heart of the SFO’s approach to enforcing the Act, and assessment can be broken down into three parts.
Corporates must have established and well publicised reporting procedures for any suspected contravention, while systematic reviews of anti-bribery procedures must be conducted to ensure they meet the changing nature of legislation.
Finally, the corporate must identify corruption indicators and check for any breaches. Indicators are listed in the guide.
Consequences of breaching the Act can now include criminal sentencing and/or penalties, and possible confiscation orders. If the SFO does not, or cannot, pursue a criminal charge it can still pursue a civil action which could result in substantial financial penalties.
Nigel Rowley, managing partner at Mackrell Turner Garrett, said: “This free guide is intended to help businesses gain an understanding of the Bribery Act, outlining what measures they should put in place to ensure they do not fall foul of the regulators and what to do if they are under investigation.
“It is not however an exhaustive statement of the law and instead gives general information only to be used as a starting point.
“The nature of the Bribery Act means that corporates should put in place an integrated legal strategy, utilising legal professionals such as Mackrell Turner Garrett.”