In difficult economic times, employees can turn to bribery and cartels to win contracts and meet targets. Obviously this is illegal and unwise and the new Bribery Bill will make it even more risky a practice.
The proposal is for a new bribery offence. This will apply to companies and also limited liability partnerships (LLPs) registered in England and Wales. They will breach the rules where they negligently fail to prevent bribery by an employee or agent. This shows the importance of training for staff, as the company could be responsible even though it knew nothing of the practice. This is already the case with breaches of UK and EU competition law in the Competition Act 1998 and Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty of Rome. Under the Bribery Bill, it would be a defence to show a company had adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery offences being committed by employees.
The Law Commission has recommended that it should be possible to hold directors and senior managers liable if they consent to, or connive in, the commission of bribery offences.
We would recommend assisting with such defence, that companies put in place staff training and also provide written guidance of the companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s policies aimed at combating corruption. Some companies may also include a clause in their commercial contracts that those with whom they contract have similar policies in place. A clause about bribery and corruption is very common in UK Government contracts already. We can draft such policies for you in addition to competition law compliance programmes. Given that the first people have been failed for breach of UK competition this year, now would be a good time to provide some guidance to employees and revise contracts. Call Cathy Cook on 01924 387110 for further information.