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first contested prosecution for failing to prevent bribery

4 April 2018

On 21 February 2018 Skansen Interior Limited (SIL) was found guilty of the offence under section 7 of the UK Bribery Act 2010 (the Act) of a failure to prevent bribery.

In 2013, SIL’s former managing director paid approximately £10,000 to secure £6m in refurbishment contracts from DTZ Debenham Tie Leung. An additional £29,000 was to be paid but was stopped following an internal investigation by SIL’s new CEO. SIL self-reported to the National Crime Agency soon after. SIL contested prosecution on the grounds that its size (no more than 30 staff) negated the need for a formal policy and the steps taken within the business were sufficient to meet the 'adequate requirements' defence.

SIL was found guilty but sentenced to an absolute discharge upon the consideration that the company had laid dormant since 2014 and had no assets. Critics query why the case was brought when the result was clear from the outset, but what is clear from the case is that bribery will not be tolerated. Consequences of the conviction could include a reduction in self-reporting, particularly when this case highlights that self-reporting and full co-operation with authorities is not a guarantee of avoiding prosecution.

However, the following can be taken from the case in determining the remit of 'adequate procedures':

  • risk is the overarching consideration when determining the level of policy required, not size
  • there is a need within all business to have an explicit policy relating to anti-bribery and corruption which is disseminated amongst staff alongside relevant training wherever appropriate
  • review of anti-bribery and corruption policy’s should be actively encouraged.

In light of the case, we would recommend a review of the current steps taken by our clients in meeting their duties to prevent white collar crime generally. Particularly, consideration should be given to whether or not steps taken are reasonable in light of their risk-profile and whether anti bribery policies are up to date with current law.

Of paramount importance is the ability to understand when an internal investigation might be necessary and how to undertake one. The results of such an investigation can have significant implications and dictate what steps should be taken by organisations, including whether or not to self-report any criminality uncovered. We can help with whistle blowing policies, internal reporting and project management of internal investigations.

focus on...

What happens within the culture of an organisation when failure is not an option?

Our discussion starts with Kweku Adoboli recounting his experiences during the 2011 UBS Swiss bank scandal, and moves to the various lessons learned and the potential solutions for minimising the risk of wrongdoing.


The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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