Tough anti-corruption laws which came into force on the 1st July, introduced a new offence of “failure of a commercial organisation to prevent bribery” – leading to a surge in interest in standards that can act as a defence for accused companies.

In response to the new legislation, the British Standards Institution (BSI) – the UK’s national standards body – is developing a new standard, BS 10500, designed to help UK businesses that want to verify both internally and to external stakeholders that they have robust anti-bribery practices in place and that they are being implemented adequately.

All BSI standards are written by bringing together the views of government, trade associations, business and consumers. Key contributors to this standard include businesses such as FTSE 250 construction firm Balfour Beatty and international legal practice Norton Rose LLP as well as stakeholder groups such as the City of London Police, the National Audit Office, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the Audit Commission.

The consultation period will end on 31 August 2011 and it is hoped that a broad selection of the business community will now be able to read and comment on this draft. The comments will be reviewed by the Anti Bribery Committee’s drafting panel in September. It is expected the full standard will be published by the end of 2011.
Shirley Bailey-Wood, Operations Director of BSI Standards, said: “Responsible organizations increasingly see bribery prevention as on a par with safety and quality control.

“They want a means to demonstrate that they have an adequate system to prevent bribery taking place and, although a significant amount of guidance already exists on anti-bribery, as yet there is no system of measuring to an agreed benchmark that an organisation’s anti-bribery practices are adequate. This is what BS 10500 will provide.”

Neill Stansbury, Director of the Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC) who is Chairman of the BSI Committee developing the standard, said “There is heightened awareness in the UK as a result of the new Bribery Act.

“There is also an increasing trend both in the UK and internationally for organisations to be required to provide evidence that they have anti-bribery procedures in place. The British Standard will give organizations a way to prove that best practice is being followed.”