Posted by James Worrall, Partner
House of Lords to consider Bribery Act impact on SMEs
A Select Committee on the Bribery Act 2010 has been appointed by the House of Lords to consider the Act and to make recommendations to the Government.
What information is the Select Committee looking for?
The committee has issued its call for evidence and, while it is looking for general feedback on the Act, it has also circulated nine questions which highlight key aspects of its review. It is encouraging to see that one of these areas is the burden the Act imposes on SMEs, where there is a widespread lack of awareness about the Act and the steps that are required from a compliance perspective. Mark Saville, chair of the Lords committee, noted there was “confusion and uncertainty about the act, amongst SMEs in particular” and that “now is the opportune time for post-legislative scrutiny”.
The Act is a wide ranging piece of anti-corruption legislation, which came into force in 2011. The potential consequences of not having ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent bribery are severe; the maximum penalty for individuals is 10 years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine, and companies can also face unlimited fines.
Why review the Act now?
Given the potential penalties, and the likely increase in trade outside the EU following Brexit, this is a timely review. Greater clarity on the Act is much needed and would be welcomed by the business community. We look forward to seeing the result of this review, and the recommendations that are made, in the coming months.
If you would like more information or advice dealing with bribery offences or to discuss any other corporate or commercial law matter, please contact a member of our Corporate team:
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