The Bribery Act 2010: what's proposed so far

07 October 2010
The Bribery Act 2010: what's proposed so far

For our latest update on the Bribery Act, see our 2 February 2011 blog post.

The Bribery Act 2010 makes it a criminal offence for organisations which are companies to fail to prevent bribery. Here we look at the draft guidance published as part of the Bribery Act consultation and outline some key considerations for those incorporated charities working in the voluntary sector.

What is a bribe?
The Bribery Act 2010 defines a bribe as a payment intended to induce a person to perform a function improperly or where accepting this payment or benefit would abuse a position of trust. Small or large payments, gifts, hospitality or expenses may be used to prejudice a decision, bypass or speed up a system or process, keep someone quiet, receive information or obtain a business advantage (to name but a few possibilities!).

Under the Act, it will be a criminal offence to give or receive a bribe.

What are organisations expected to do?
Under section 7 of the Act, directors can be criminally liable for bribes made or taken on behalf of their organisation. To defend a charge of bribery, you will need to demonstrate that your organisation has adequate bribery prevention procedures in place. This will act as a complete defence to any allegations made against you. What is adequate will depend enormously on your organisation's size and nature of work. But the draft guidance is intended to give you a flavour of what this might involve - and a source of inspiration to get you started.

What are adequate anti-bribery procedures?
The Government has outlined six general principles which it thinks are key to a successful anti-bribery approach at work. These aren't prescriptive and should be proportionate to what you do. These principles include:

Risk assessment: this means knowing and keeping up-to-date with the bribery risks you face so that your practices can evolve with these risks.
What might this look like in practice?

  • Deciding whether internal staff are skilled enough to conduct a risk assessment (or whether external support is required).
  • Collecting internal evidence from your annual audit reports, any internal investigations you've held, looking at staff/client complaints, areas where things have gone wrong previously - as well as current staff knowledge and awareness.
  • Surveying publicly available information on bribery risks in your subsector or countries of work - and identifying how much you know about business partners/ new territories or projects.
  • Identifying high risk transactions such as charitable/political donations, the granting of licences/permits or large contracts.

Top level commitment: this means communicating a clear, unambiguous and regular message to staff, stakeholders and business partners that offering or accepting bribes is unacceptable.
What might this look like in practice? A statement in your policies/procedures or staff handbook from senior management, ensuring the consequences of bribery are clearly laid out; a statement on your website, intranet or something clearly visible in your office or as part of your organisation's values. A clear verbal commitment to transparency to staff and partners, ensuring your policies are well-communicated.

Due diligence: this means conducting your business so that you feel confident that business relationships are transparent and ethical. You know who you do business with, why and who you are releasing funds to.
What might this look like in practice?

  • Gathering intelligence on the bribery risks and preventative measures existing where you work, who you work with and the projects you work on.
  • It may involve putting appropriate controls in place such as anti-bribery clauses or agreements.

Clear, accessible and practical policies: having policies for risks and applying these policies to your staff, volunteers and people working on your behalf such as agents and consultants. You may find that developing policies in consultation with staff will encourage commitment and feed in their good ideas.
What might this look like in practice?

Effective implementation: this means going beyond paper compliance and embedding anti-bribery into your day-to-day operations.
What might this look like in practice?

Monitoring and review: checking and strengthening the auditing and financial controls you have that are sensitive to bribery - and ensuring that this adapts to the needs and demands of your current and future situations.
What might this look like in practice?

  • Using effective financial and auditing controls to pick up potential irregularities.
  • Seeking the views and comments of employees and key business partners to feed into the continual improvement of anti-bribery policies.
  • Considering what checks and balances you have to monitor anti-bribery measures in your organisation - and what events (such as government changes or press headlines) may trigger a review.
  • If you operate in high risk areas or you are a larger organisation, is external verification desirable?

For further information on combating bribery in the voluntary sector, see:
Transparency International UK
This website has a wealth of research and tools for organisations, including Adequate procedures - a comprehensive guide to what organisations should be doing under the Bribery Act 2010 which signposts a wide range of further resources.

Please note that HRBird by its very nature offers general information. If you're looking for advice specific to your situation, speak to an HR professional or solicitor. Got a question on staff or volunteers? To submit an anonymous query for the HRBird blog, contact us. 

Post a comment
Nice article. I would be very interested to hear what your readers thoughts on the draft guidance is as we at are also participating in the consultation process. If you do have thoughts and would like to communicate them to us please post comments to this link which also has details of the various town hall meetings the MoJ is running as part of this process.

And a short plug for a great resource for all matters bribery act related.
Barry Vitou
10/10/2010 15.41.03
Thanks very much for highlighting this Barry - your website looks really clear and useful. If you have any resources or campaigns (now or in future) which might help or be of interest to employers in the voluntary sector, please do drop us an email!
12/10/2010 19.41.36
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