Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Crutes talks Bribery Act to Bdaily

Earlier this year the Bribery Act 2010 came into force, placing an onerous burden on businesses in the region to ensure that neither they nor their employees fall foul of it’s stringent criteria.

When the Act came into force on the 1 July 2011, it introduced a new offence of failing to prevent bribery by those working on behalf of a business, whether they are direct employees or overseas agents

The act was first used last week to prosecute a court clerk who took a bribe whilst working at Redbridge Magistrates’ Court. Katherine Hannah from Crutes Law Firm in Newcastle has been speaking to Bdaily about how businesses and individuals should deal with the act.

“Businesses can be caught under section 7 of the act for failing to prevent bribery in their business, while individuals can be liable under the whole act,” she explained. “ If businesses can prove they took measures to prevent bribery and have a proactive anti bribery policy, this can provide a full defence.

“However, individuals and businesses must be especially careful, as it is not just monetary advantages which can be construed as bribes, it is incentives too.”

The severity of the sentence for this crime at crown court is indicative of the serious of the crime; an unlimited fine for businesses, and a 10-year prison sentence and a fine for individuals found to be guilty.

“These penalties reflect the seriousness of the offences, and the sentence will be dependent upon the value of the bribe, whether it was a series of bribes or whether it was part of a series of more severe offences.”

While this act may strike fear into the hearts of those who regularly wine and dine clients, Katherine is keen to stress that the courts will impose it sensibly.

“The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke offered some guidance when the new legislation was introduced and he advised that a common sense approach should be taken; it is not intended to penalize or over burden individuals who are genuinely and ethically running a business.

“Nonetheless, there is a fine line between offering legitimate incentives, and overstepping into the bribery area – and lots of business are treading the line.

She is now encouraging businesses to beware of the dangers, and to ensure they protect themselves, if they or any of their colleagues are accused of bribery.

“Businesses should have advanced procedures in place to ensure they can meet the standards of the new act.

“Most businesses have it already, but now it could be a case of tightening up protective mechanisms which are already in place.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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