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Harry Cassin
Publisher and Editor

Andy Spalding
Senior Editor

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Senior Editor

Richard L. Cassin
Editor at Large

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Editor Emeritus

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Contributing Editor

Julie DiMauro
Contributing Editor

Thomas Fox
Contributing Editor

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Bill Waite
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Russell A. Stamets
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Eric Carlson
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A third of UK SMEs still haven’t heard of the Bribery Act

The UK Ministry of Justice and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) surveyed small and medium sized businesses to find out how many know about the 2010 Bribery Act.

The answer is two-thirds. That’s good. But it leaves a third still in the dark.

Surprisingly, eight in ten who had heard of the Bribery Act understand that it has extra-territorial reach.

There’s less awareness about the Ministry of Justice guidance on the Bribery Act published in March 2011. Three quarters of the respondents didn’t know about it.

Here’s part of the executive summary from the government’s awareness report.

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Two-thirds (66%) of the SMEs surveyed had either heard of the Bribery Act 2010 or were aware of its corporate liability for failure to prevent bribery. Awareness was greater among SMEs exporting to regions that are less developed, including the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South and Central America (68%) compared to those companies only exporting to developed regions including Europe, North America and Australia (56%).

Around eight in ten SMEs (81%) that had heard of the Bribery Act were also aware that the Act has extra-territorial reach (i.e. it encompasses bribery offenses committed overseas).

Of all SMEs that were aware of the Bribery Act, almost three-quarters (72%) perceived that their company had sufficient knowledge and understanding to be able to implement adequate anti-bribery procedures. This perceived knowledge and understanding was greatest among those SMEs that were aware of corporate liability for failure to prevent bribery (79%) compared to those that had only heard of the Act itself (45%).

Three-quarters (74%) of SMEs that were aware of the Bribery Act were not aware of the MOJ guidance published in March 2011 to help commercial organizations understand the procedures they can put in place to prevent persons associated with them from bribing.

Of those SMEs that were aware of the MOJ guidance, three quarters (75%) had read the guidance and the majority of these (89%) reported that they found the guidance to be useful.

Other guidance and associated costs A third (33%) of SMEs aware of the Bribery Act or its corporate liability for failure to prevent bribery provisions reported that they had used some form of guidance other than or in addition to reliance on the MOJ guidance.

When asked what the guidance that they had used was, 21% of those using other guidance reported guidance from lawyers or solicitors, 15% used guidance from other business consultants, and 14% used guidance from trade or professional bodies.

SMEs were also asked if they had sought any professional advice about the Bribery Act or about bribery prevention. Around a quarter (24%) of SMEs who were aware of the Bribery Act or its corporate failure to prevent provisions had sought such advice, which was most commonly offered by legal professionals (54% of those seeking professional advice).

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The complete report, Insight into awareness and impact of the Bribery Act 2010 among small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), is here (pdf).


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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  1. what else is new. lack of outreach by govt. better to entrap you my dear.

    look at itar in the u.s.a. how much outreach to sme's does the state dept do for that? zip.

  2. Those companies that conduct business globally and are not aware of the UK Bribery Act or the U.S.FCPA are putting themselves at risk. As far as the UK Bribery Act is concern it is still new and there is no history of convictions or enforcement.. Once the government decides to step up enforcement companies will take notice. Accordingly, this could mean that many firms still are operating globally without an anti-bribery and corruption compliance policy. This is not a good thing.

  3. While conducting diligence on third parties, whether it be for acquisition or otherwise I'm astounded at how few people are aware of the UKBA. FCPA or any other ABC type legislation. Even when they are aware I'm more astounded when they tell me "well it doesn't really apply to us……"

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