As part of its corporate governance and legal support services, London Registrars (http://www.london-registrars.co.uk/) regularly updates clients on the ramifications of the Bribery Act 2010, which fights against bribery and corruption in the corporate arena. This is clearly a warranted service, given the fact that new research has revealed that half of companies in the UK are unaware that the Act even exists.

Professional services firm Ernst & Young found in their survey of 50 procurement managers and directors of British companies that 56% of firms are unaware of the Bribery Act. While larger organisations (termed as firms with a turnover of more than £50 million) tended to be more aware of the Act, with 76% in that category saying they knew of it, only 36% of medium-sized companies (with a turnover of between £5 million and £50 million) were aware that the Act existed.  Ernst & Young found the latter figure of most concern, saying that these were exactly the size of firms which were less likely to have processes and systems in place to deal with the issue of bribery.

John Smart of Ernst & Young told Personnel Today, “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.

“The mid-market and the manufacturers really need to get to grips with their bribery risks without delay. Based on our findings, it seems firms are either underestimating bribery risk, don’t feel sufficiently educated to give their staff adequate guidance, or are failing to see the urgency in ensuring that their organisations and their suppliers are Bribery Act compliant.

“In any case, these results should serve as a stark warning to firms that they should ramp up their compliance procedures to ensure that clear anti-bribery policies are in place right across the business and the supply chain, and that relevant staff receive sufficient training.”

To discover what your company needs to know about not just the Bribery Act, but all relevant areas of corporate governance, visit the London Registrars website at http://www.london-registrars.co.uk/.