Survey finds only 16% of small to medium-sized firms have anti-bribery training in place

Construction firms need to tighten their anti-corruption procedures before the Bribery Act comes into effect today, according to legal experts.

Christopher Hill, partner at Norton Rose, said middle-sized firms were most likely to need to improve their policies. He said large firms were likely to be well prepared for the act. Small firms did not need such detailed procedures as their actions to prevent corruption can be proportionate to the risks they face. He said: “Mid-sized contractors may think they have adequate procedures but I am not convinced they have done the work to implement them.”

He said firms with overseas operations also faced risks as facilitation payments may be perceived as a necessity in some countries.

The warning comes after a survey by law firm Russell Jones & Walker found only 16% of small to medium-sized firms surveyed have anti-bribery training in place, and firms had a broad idea of the rules but little detailed knowledge so could be at risk of breaching the legislation.

The act forbids the giving and receiving of bribes, and holds organisations responsible for failing to prevent bribery committed by people working on their behalf, such as agents, employees and joint venture partners. However firms can defend themselves by proving they had adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.