Beware of the Bribery Act

JONATHAN RIPMAN of Gotelee Solicitors says transport companies may need to be particularly beware of the Bribery Act

THE newly arrived Bribery Act 2010 has been widely publicised but it may be easy to dismiss the new legislation as intended for someone else.

If any transport operators have taken this view I would urge them to look again. With hospitality and customer entertainment an established feature of the transport industry, bribery is a risk to watch out for.

Transport businesses need to understand the penalties introduced by the new Act for anyone giving or taking a bribe. The maximum prison sentence is now 10 years and courts can impose unlimited fines. Directors can also face disqualification.

Transport and motor retail is Suffolk’s second largest business sector; we have some big transport businesses in Suffolk and the sector has delivered a number of millionaires.

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Whilst “Cash for Contracts” is not a feature of this industry, operators do need to take some basic measures to be confident that hospitality and promotional expenditure will remain legitimate. Principally the requirement is for procedures that reduce the risk of bribery.

What guidance is there then to assist operators? The “adequate procedures” guidance published on March 30 stresses that organisations should put in place procedures that are proportionate to the risk of bribery in their particular organisation; smaller, domestic organisations will face different challenges from those of larger organisations and international businesses.

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The guidance sets out six principles which should inform the procedure put in place by operators to prevent bribery. These are:

Proportionate procedures – procedures proportionate to the bribery risks faced and to the nature, scale and complexity of the commercial organisation’s activities;

Top level commitment – top management should show a commitment to preventing bribery, and foster a culture where bribery is never acceptable;

Risk assessment – assess, in a periodic, informed and documented way the bribery risk the organisation faces;

Due diligence – apply due diligence procedures. Ask for information where third party agents are used;

Communication – train employees and monitor their progress. Some might need more training than others; and

Monitoring and review – make improvements when necessary; risks change from time to time. External appraisal of your policies and procedures would be wise for larger organisations.

So, the Cheltenham Festival and three nights at the Lygon Arms, so that we can discuss your choice of haulier? I don’t think so!

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