A recent U.K. government survey of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) revealed that one-third of the surveyed companies were not aware of the 2010 Bribery Act, nor did they know that companies can be held liable for failure to prevent bribery. Even more of the surveyed companies (75%) did not know about Ministry of Justice (MOJ) guidance on the Bribery Act published in March 2011.
Of the surveyed companies that did know about the Bribery Act, however, awareness and understanding were fairly sophisticated. Most (80%) companies understood that the Act has extra-territorial reach, and one-third (33%) reported that they used some form of guidance other than or in addition to the MOJ guidance, such as advice from lawyers or solicitors, business consultants, or trade or professional bodies.
Companies that were aware of the MoJ guidance were more likely to have bribery prevention procedures in place, such as bookkeeping, auditing, and approval of expenditure.
The 2010 Bribery Act, which came into force in July 2011, is a key element of the U.K.’s response to corruption threats raised by increased engagement with the global economy. Between 2000 and 2012, the number of SMEs in the U.K. grew by 1.3 million. Of those, an estimated 20 percent of SMEs export, and 5 percent export outside of the EU.
The complete report, Insight into awareness and impact of the Bribery Act 2010 among small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), is available here.