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In today's global business landscape, supporting integrity and ethical conduct is of paramount importance. Many businesses would benefit from creating an Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABC) Policy to counter the risks associated with bribery and corruption. 

These policies serve as guidelines to prevent, detect, and address unethical practices within a business and its interactions with external parties. In this article, we’ll explore what an ABC policy is, its key components, and its role in ensuring transparent and ethical business practices.

What is the Bribery Act 2010?

The Bribery Act 2010 is the primary legislation in the UK that addresses bribery and corruption. It replaced and strengthened existing laws to provide a more robust legal framework. 

The Act covers four main offences: 

  • Offering, promising, or giving bribes.
  • Requesting, agreeing to receive, or accepting bribes
  • Bribing a foreign public official
  • The failure of commercial organisations to prevent bribery

What is an Anti-bribery and Corruption Policy?

An Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy is a comprehensive document that outlines an organisation's commitment to ethical conduct and its determination to combat bribery and corruption in all forms. This policy serves as a framework for employees, senior management, suppliers, contractors, agents, and other relevant stakeholders, ensuring they understand their responsibilities and the consequences of non-compliance. 

What should be included in an Anti-bribery and Corruption Policy?

An Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy aligned with the Bribery Act 2010 typically includes the following:

  1. Policy Statement – you need a clear and unequivocal statement of your business’s commitment to preventing bribery and corruption. The policy statement should outline the values, principles, and ethical standards that guide your organisation's conduct.
  2. Risk assessment – organisations must conduct a thorough risk assessment to find areas where they may be vulnerable to bribery and corruption. The policy should outline the processes for assessing and mitigating these risks, considering internal and external factors.
  3. Procedures and controls – the ABC policy should set up robust procedures and controls that promote transparency, accountability, and compliance with the Bribery Act 2010. This includes guidelines on gifts, hospitality, donations, facilitation payments, and interactions with public officials.
  4. Due diligence – the policy should outline your organisation's commitment to conducting due diligence on employees, business partners, agents, and other third parties to ensure they meet the required ethical standards and adhere to anti-bribery and corruption measures.
  5. Training and awareness – adequate training and awareness programs are crucial to ensure your employees understand their obligations under the policy and the Bribery Act 2010. The policy should detail training methods and frequency, as well as how the effectiveness of the policy will be evaluated.
  6. Reporting mechanisms – an effective ABC policy encourages the reporting of suspected bribery and corruption incidents. It should provide clear procedures for reporting, protecting whistleblowers, and investigating allegations.
  7. Consequences of non-compliance – the policy should specify the consequences of violating the ABC policy, including disciplinary actions and legal implications. Your policy should also make clear that employees won’t face censure or disciplinary action for reporting suspicions of bribery.

Is it a legal requirement to have an Anti-bribery and Corruption Policy?

Organisations have no specific legal requirement to have an Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABC) policy in place. However, having an ABC policy is strongly recommended and is considered the best practice for UK companies. 

It shows a commitment to ethical conduct, helps prevent bribery and corruption, and can provide a defence against potential legal liabilities.While the Bribery Act 2010 doesn’t explicitly mandate the adoption of an ABC policy, it does establish an offence of "failure to prevent bribery." 

Having an effective ABC policy, along with proper procedures and controls, can provide your business with a defence against failure to prevent allegations.

What size of business needs an Anti-bribery and Corruption Policy?

You may think your business is too small to justify having an ABC policy; however, consider that 90% of global business is carried out by small businesses that don’t have the same HR and legal resources as large companies. Therefore, It makes sense to have an ABC policy so everyone in your team, plus suppliers, contractors, agents, and distributors, understands their compliance obligations.

Can you use an Anti-bribery and Corruption Policy template?

Yes, companies can use an Anti-bribery and Corruption Policy template as a starting point for developing their own customised policy. A template provides a structured framework that incorporates best practices and legal requirements, saving time and effort in policy development. 

However, it's important to note that each company's needs and risks may vary, so the template should be carefully reviewed, tailored, and supplemented to reflect the specific circumstances and industry of the business. 

Get legal assistance from LawBite

Implementing an Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABC) policy is crucial for companies in today's global business landscape. Such a policy is a framework to prevent, detect, and address unethical practices, ensuring transparent and ethical business conduct. While not a legal requirement, having an ABC policy demonstrates a commitment to integrity, helps mitigate risks of bribery and corruption, and can provide a defence against potential legal liabilities. 

You can rely on our experienced lawyers to provides expert legal assistance in drafting a comprehensive ABC policy for your company. To find out how we can help you, book a free 15 minute consultation or call us on 020 3808 8314.


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In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

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