Mid-market lacks knowledge of UK Bribery Act says Ernst & Young

Over a year since the implementation of the Bribery Act, the majority of mid-market British businesses are still unaware of how the legislation works.

Research from accountancy firm Ernst & Young shows that some 64 per cent of mid-market companies do not understand what the Bribery Act means.

Conducted by Ernst & Young’s Fraud, Investigations and Disputes team, the study reveals that larger businesses with a turnover in excess of £50 million are more aware of the law.

The poll of 50 procurement managers and directors also reveals that of the companies which have heard of the Bribery Act, some 52 per cent vet suppliers to see if compliance with the legislation is met.

Implemented back in July 2011, the new Bribery Act replaces the existing law on bribery with four offences: bribing another person (dealt with in section 1 of the Act); being bribed yourself (section 2); bribing a foreign public official (section 6); and commercial organisations failing to prevent bribery (section 7).

A sector breakdown shows that 53 per cent of manufacturing companies, and 75 per cent of automotive ones, have not heard of the Act.

The region with the lowest awareness rate is the North of England with 78 per cent blind to the Act. Some 72 per cent in the South of England and 67 per cent in Scotland are also unaware.

More on the Bribery Act:

John Smart, partner at Ernst & Young, comments, ‘The Bribery Act has been with us for more than a year, and it’s a concern that so many firms still don’t know what it is and what it means for them.

‘We shouldn’t need to wait for a company to be fined under the Act before we are spurred into taking the appropriate precautions to manage bribery risk.’

With Ernst & Young saying that UK must embrace exporting to boost growth, Smart believes that the mid-market and manufacturing industry needs to ‘get to grips’ with bribery risks without delay.

‘If the UK is to export itself back to growth, then this carries with it a whole raft of new risks, including bribery,’ he adds.

‘A robust review of the supply chain should be a key focus for businesses, as proper processes for vetting suppliers is required under the legislation.’

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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