By Jaan Larner, Consultant Solicitor, Keystone Law

Businesses should look carefully at the six principles of the Bribery Act 2010 set out in the guidance from the Ministry of Justice. This article looks at each in turn:

Proportionate procedures

- Appoint someone senior to act as a compliance officer and task them with preparing proportionate procedures, based on these principles. He or she should consider the risks actually faced by the organisation.

- Commercial organisations should start by assessing risks across the business within areas such as overseas operations or in the corporate hospitality it undertakes.

- Ask all department heads to assist with the review and involve all staff from top to bottom.

Top-level commitment

- Owners, top-level directors and managers should be involved in setting the anti-bribery procedures and ensuring the principles are reflected across the business.

- The highest level of decision makers should issue a formal statement, to the company internally and externally, of the business's approach to countering bribery and the formal involvement of the senior directors and owners in developing, maintaining, monitoring and reviewing bribery prevention policies.

- Consider the marketing benefits of making this commitment publicly.

Risk assessment

- The compliance officer should prepare a risk assessment based on the business’ size and structure, including risks arising from the country or sector in which they operate, whether they participate in activities such as public procurement, the types and subject matter of transactions, as well as the participants.

- The risk assessment should especially include consideration of a bonus culture and the potential for increased and excessive risk-taking.

Due diligence

- The compliance officer needs to conduct a review of the relationships with individuals and organisations which perform services or supply goods to the business, to ensure that an appropriate approach is taken with respect to, and by, each of them.

- This review can both highlight and help mitigate the risk, especially in company merger and acquisition activities.

Communication and training

- The compliance officer should prepare a comprehensive internal and external communication plan.

- The business should draw up a risk-based training plan for staff (with a view to fostering an anti-bribery culture in all businesses) including:

- induction procedures for new staff;

- appropriate statements and due diligence for new providers of goods and services; and

- ongoing training for existing staff and providers.

Monitoring and review

- Once anti-bribery procedures are in place, compliance officers should adopt monitoring and review procedures to ensure ongoing compliance.

- Anti-bribery compliance should be included as an ongoing board agenda item.

This generalised checklist is not exhaustive nor necessarily appropriate for every business. Consequently businesses should seek professional advice where possible in order to ensure compliance with regard to their particular areas of commercial activity.

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