The Bribery Act came into force on 1 July 2011 and although significant prosecutions are still awaited it is intended to change the way UK companies conduct business and make it easier for authorities to prosecute corrupt business by British commercial organisations both in the UK and abroad.
Where appropriate it will also enable foreign commercial organisations to be prosecuted if they have a presence in the UK, even if the conduct in question occurs overseas.
Of most significance, the new corporate offence, of failing to prevent bribery, will be committed unless a commercial organisation can show that it had adequate procedures in place to combat corrupt activity by those acting on its behalf.
In addition to ensuring employees do not act improperly, businesses need also to ensure that agents and other third parties associated with the business are properly overseen or risk being held criminally liable for their actions.
That liability could lead to commercial organisations being made subject to unlimited fines, draconian confiscation orders and indefinite debarment from being able to tender for future work.
Generic guidance has been issued by HM Government, the Serious Fraud Office and DPP, but it is clear that such guidance must be tailored to the needs of individual businesses.
We have provided legal advice and training to a range of industries including oil and maritime services, the retail sector and the art world.
Call our Business Crime & Regulatory Solicitors on freephone 0161 830 9695 or contact us online.
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