What are "adequate procedures" to prevent bribery under the Bribery Act 2010?

A commercial organisation commits a criminal offence under s.7 of the Bribery Act 2010 if it fails to prevent bribery that is intended to obtain or retain business, or an advantage in the conduct of business, for the organisation. An organisation will have a defence to this corporate offence if it can show that it had in place "adequate procedures" designed to prevent bribery by or of persons associated with the organisation.

The Act does not define "adequate procedures", but the Government has published official guidance about procedures that commercial organisations can put into place to prevent bribery by persons associated with them. The guidance is based on six principles:

  • Proportionate procedures - bribery prevention procedures should be proportionate to the bribery risks the organisation faces and to the nature, scale and complexity of its commercial activities.
  • Top-level commitment - the top-level management should be committed to preventing bribery and should foster a culture in which bribery is never acceptable.
  • Risk assessment - the nature and extent of exposure to potential external and internal risks of bribery should be assessed and documented periodically.
  • Due diligence - due diligence should be carried out in relation to third parties who will perform services on behalf of the organisation.
  • Communication (including training) - bribery prevention policies and procedures should be embedded and understood throughout the organisation.
  • Monitoring and review - bribery prevention procedures should be monitored, reviewed and, where necessary, improved.