May 29, 2015

Assessing the Bribery Act five years on

The law, which came into force the following year, replaced an ageing framework of legislation and was much hailed as the UK’s first dedicated anti-bribery law.

There has recently been renewed debate about whether the Act has ushered in the change in corporate culture that some predicted in 2010.

Critics have been quick to point out that there have only been a handful of individual prosecutions under the legislation and authorities have yet to initiate proceedings against a business.

Some have taken this as evidence that the law is “toothless”, although this has been challenged by many in the legal industry, who argue that there is greater awareness now of the issues surrounding corruption.

The change in culture was illustrated by the results of a recent survey, conducted by audit firm EY.

A poll of UK citizens found that 27 per cent thought bribery and corrupt practices were widespread, but this was down from 37 per cent in 2013.

John Smart, head of EY’s fraud investigations team, said: “The UK appears to be ahead of other European states in its approach to confronting fraud and corruption. It is therefore important not to lose sight of the positive effect that legislation, such as the 2010 Bribery Act, is having in driving out explicit acts of bribery and other illicit practices.

“In order to meet the corporate ethics challenge, boards will need to supplement their anti-fraud, bribery and corruption polices with consistent messaging from the top, together with the right enforcement, rewards for whistleblowers and highlighting role-models.”

For more advice on the Bribery Act and ensuring that your company is meeting its obligations under the legislation, please visit our website or contact Claus Andersen.

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