A recent report about the awareness and impact of the Bribery Act 2010 among smaller firms published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Department for Business (BIS) reveals that a third of smaller firms have either not heard of the Bribery Act or are unaware of their liability for the failure to prevent bribery.
The report also indicates only 26% of small firms who knew about the Act were aware of guidance which is available from the MoJ. Of those who were aware 72% believed they had sufficient knowledge to be able to introduce anti-bribery procedures while 42% already had bribery prevention procedures in place.
Ironically, bribery risks are more common among small and medium-sized firms who export to less developed countries. Of those firms who exported to countries such as China, 59 per cent had bribery prevention procedures in place. Barry Vitou, a bribery expert from Pinsent Masons said, “This report flags again that many businesses in the UK are simply not taking steps they need to deal with corruption issues. SMEs underestimate their enforcement risk profile and assume that they are of little or no interest to law enforcement. They could not be more wrong.”
Running a small business is challenging at the best of times and the raft of legislation that has to be complied with is mind boggling for many business owners. However, ignorance is no defence and it is important that business owners have systems in place to protect them and their businesses from liabilities from whichever direction they may arise. Common sense is a good initial guide to help mitigate risk, but professional advice should be sought in cases where there are any perceived ‘grey areas’ for businesses of all sizes.
For general business advice and assistance contact your local Burgis & Bullock office on 0845 177 5500 or use our on-line contact form.