The Bribery Act has serious implications for your business with the new offence of 'failing to prevent bribery'. It is therefore imperative that your Company ensures it has adequate procedures in place throughout all aspects of the organisation, and that they are fully backed and supported by your CEO and senior management teams.
Much has been made on the internet about what constitutes adequate procedures, and there are no fixed rules. However, the Ministry of Justice Bribery Act : Quick Start Guide includes the following 6 principles:
Proportionality: The action you take should be proportionate to the risks that you face and to the size of your business. Larger organisations, or those operating overseas where bribery is known to be commonplace, are expected to do more to prevent bribery.
Top Level Commitment: Management teams are in the best position to ensure that their organisation conducts business without bribery.
Risk Assessment: You need to think about the bribery risks you could face - from different markets and from the people you deal with - especially when entering new business arrangements.
Due Diligence: You need to know who you are dealing with - ask questions and complete background checks before finalising the agreement.
Communication: Communicating your policies and procedures to staff and third parties performing on your behalf will help to deter bribery by making it clear how your organisation does business. You may need to consider additional training, but the efforts needed are expected to be proportionate to the size of your organisation.
Monitoring and Review: You need to keep on top of the risks that you face, expecially if the nature of your business changes or moves into new areas, and amend your procedures accordingly.
If you are at all unsure about how the Bribery Act may affect your organisation, you should consult a reputable legal firm to work with you to develop your policies. Suitable standard policies are also readily available on the internet. However, remember the proportionality guideline – that standards expected from a smaller company will not be the same as those for a larger organisation.
Your standard contract of employment may need to be modified to add a clause stating that employees are legally obliged to comply with your anti-bribery policies and procedures. Don't forget that representatives of your company also include people who may not be employees (e.g. external contractors).
Contracts between you and a third party may need to be modified to include a clause which guarantees they agree to comply with your policies.
You also need to ensure you have adequate procedures in place for employees to follow should they become aware of another employee breaking your anti-bribery policy, so that these offences can be easily and efficiently communicated back to your compliance team.