The Bribery Act 2010 has recently fallen under the spotlight with a spate of high profile investigations and prosecutions.
It emphasises the fact that the act contains serious legislation which, as a business person, you must not ignore. It is vital that your business has the proper procedures in place to prevent those associated with it from getting involved in bribery and corruption.
Here at First4lawyers, we have the knowledge and experience in bribery and corruption law to assist you in developing a code of conduct your entire workforce should adhere to, and to help your company defend itself against allegations of corruption.
What is bribery and corruption?
The Bribery Act 2010 defines bribery as the improper exchange of money (or “other advantage”) to or from another person in exchange for certain “relevant” actions. Corruption is generally recognised as dishonest actions by those in power, typically involving bribery.
The Act applies to actions one performs “in both the private and public sectors” and covers activity both inside and outside the UK.
It also criminalises the bribery of foreign public officials under Section 6; this part of the Act defines this as distinct from the “general” bribery offences. As a result, there is no need for the prosecutor to show that the foreign public official accepted the bribe(s) or behaved improperly.
Perhaps most importantly for those owning or running a business, Section 7 of the Act deems failure to prevent bribery a “corporate offence”.
Why do I need the help of solicitors?
Although the Ministry of Justice has published a guide to help businesses install "adequate procedures” to prevent bribery and/or corruption by you, your employees or persons associated with them, it’s advisable to seek professional guidance to actually put them into action and ensure they’re lawful .
It is also recommended if you believe your employees or persons associated with your firm have some involvement in acts of bribery and/or corruption and you wish to carry out an internal investigation.
Again, legal advice could be necessary if you or your employees wish to consider “self-reporting” to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). Trained corporate solicitors may be able to help you negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement.
If you are subject to an internal disciplinary investigation by your employer and you are concerned about the potential criminal consequences, a lawyer will be able to assess your situation and help you decide the best course of action.
If you – or your employees - are approached to act as prosecution witnesses in large scale bribery and corruption proceedings, you must contact a specialist corruption lawyer as soon as possible.
Finally, legal advice is a must if you, your business, or employees are under formal criminal investigation by authorities and subject to:
- Prosecution and trial.
- Dawn raids.
- Search warrants at your business premises or home.
- Arrest and interview under caution.
I am under investigation for bribery and/or corruption – what should I do?
Being the subject of a criminal investigation can be very trying for a business, and for all of those involved. Not only is the reputation of your firm at stake, but your personal and professional standing may also suffer untold harm.
Our expert bribery lawyers work with executives, directors, and other high level individuals within companies – as well as the firms they work for – all over the UK.
At First4lawyers we have teams of experts in employment law, corporate and civil litigation, as well as business crime and regulation. We are here to offer you realistic and tactical advice, and defend you in court should it ever be necessary.
If you are being investigated for corruption, or are looking to avoid litigation, you should seek legal guidance. Get in touch and speak to one of our advisors about how we can help you.