Bribery Act – failure to act

A company has became the first company to be convicted under section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010. Sweett Group pleaded guilty to failing to prevent an act of bribery, and was fined £1.4 million. In addition, a confiscation order totalling £851,152.23 and an order for prosecution costs of £95,031 were made.

Section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010 has always been controversial in the business community as it criminalising companies for failing to act, rather than being complicit in bribery. The offence contains a statutory defence of having “adequate procedures to prevent bribery”. However, this case provides no further guidance on the extent to which procedures are deemed to be adequate.

Companies without adequate policies and procedures in place need to take steps immediately to avoid breaching the legislation.