Professionals in the construction industry will be put under pressure to comply with the guidelines in an anti-corruption code that was issued this week.
A draft of the rules, which covers bribery, deception and fraud, has been published by the Society of Construction Law in an attempt to combat “widespread corruption” in the industry. The society is hoping trade associations will adopt the guidelines as part of their codes of membership.
Neill Stansbury, joint author of the report, entitled Anti-Corruption Code for Individuals in the Construction Industry, and a member of the anti-corruption league Transparency International, said: “Many surveys show that construction is the most corrupt sector internationally. Routine actions on construction projects are breaching criminal law. We believe corruption can be stopped as long as all industry stakeholders take action.”
The code highlights areas of common practice in the industry that breach criminal law. These include being “wilfully blind” to bribes accepted by a joint-venture partner; this offence carries a maximum sentence of seven years. Another offence is for a client to invite additional project bids with the specifical intention of bringing pressure to bear on a favoured bidder to reduce its quotation.
The society wants trade associations to make compliance with the code a condition of membership.
Stansbury said the Crown Prosecution Service would make resources available to enforce the code if it received complaints that it had been breached.
He said: “There have not been many court cases on these issues in UK construction, which is probably because of a lack of reporting. The message from the CPS is that these actions are criminal, but that it lacks the resources to prosecute. However, if there were more complaints, they would have to make resources available.”