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ANTI - CORRUPTION AND BRIBERY POLICY
It is the Policy of this Firm to conduct all of our business in an honest and ethical manner. This Firm takes a zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption and we are committed to acting professionally, fairly and with integrity in all our business dealings and relationships wherever we operate either locally, nationally, or internationally and in implementing and enforcing effective systems to counter bribery and corruption.
This Firm will uphold all laws relevant to countering bribery and corruption in all the jurisdictions in which we operate. However, we remain bound by the laws of the UK including the Bribery Act 2010 ("2010 Act"), in respect of our conduct both at home and abroad.
The purpose of this Policy is to:-
set out this Firm's responsibility and of those working for us, in observing and upholding our position to prevent bribery and corruption; and
provide information and guidance to those working for us on how to recognise and deal with bribery and corruption issues.
An individual convicted of bribery and corruption under the 2010 Act could face imprisonment for a period of up to ten years and if this Firm is found to have taken part in bribery, then we could face an unlimited fine, be excluded from tendering for public contracts and face considerable damage to our reputation. Also, this firm would be subject to disciplinary action for breach of the Solicitors Code of Conduct and could be liable to sanctions for money laundering as bribery will almost certainly involve an element of the primary money laundering offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 ("2002 Act"). This Firm therefore takes our legal responsibilities very seriously in respect of complying with the requirements of the 2010 Act.
This Firm has identified that dealing with public organisations, companies and individuals based in foreign jurisdictions outside the European Union ("EU"), the United States, Canada and various developed countries can pose a potential risk of bribery. When dealing with any public organisation, company or individual based in a foreign jurisdiction, it is recommended practice that all staff check the risk of bribery in that jurisdiction by viewing the following portal www.business-anti-corruption.com and look at the section dealing with the relevant country's profile. If the country concerned has a high risk of bribery and corruption, then care needs to be taken in relation to any dealings which take place within that jurisdiction and where necessary guidance should be sought from the Firm's Compliance Unit.
To deal with any risks posed to the Firm's business, we have put the following measures in place:-
the carrying out of risk assessments in relation to work performed in those jurisdictions were bribery and corruption is prevalent;
the monitoring of all our relationships with clients, suppliers, agents and consultants; and
the provision of a single point of reference, specifically the Firm's Compliance Unit, in the event that a problem occurs where there is a risk of bribery.
All risk assessments and notifications relating to bribery should be notified to the Firm's Compliance Solicitor who will then risk assess and deal with any reports made under this Policy.
In this Policy, third party means any individual or organisation who you come into contact with during the course of your work for us and includes actual and potential clients, suppliers, distributors, business contacts, agents, advisors and government and public bodies, including their advisors, representatives and officials, politicians and political parties.
Who is covered by the Policy?
This Policy applies to all individuals working at all levels and grades, including partners, senior managers, officers, directors, employees (whether permanent, fixed term or temporary), consultants, contractors, trainees, seconded staff, home workers, casual workers and agency staff, agents or any other persons associated with us collectively referred to as workers in this Policy.
What is Bribery?
A bribe is an inducement or reward offered, promised or provided in order to gain any commercial, contractual, regulatory or personal advantage. Examples of bribery are as follows:-
Offering a bribe
You offer a potential client the sum of £1000, but only if they agree to do business with us.
Under the 2010 Act this would be an offence as you are making the offer to gain a commercial and contractual advantage. This Firm may also be found to have committed an offence because the offer has been made to obtain business on our behalf. It may also be an offence for the potential client to accept your offer.
Receiving a bribe
A supplier gives one of your relatives a job, but makes it clear that in return they expect you to use your influence in this Firm to ensure that we continue to do business with them.
It is an offence for the supplier to make such an offer. It would be an offence for you to accept the bribe as you would be doing so to gain a personal advantage for yourself and this Firm.
Bribing a foreign official
You arrange for the Firm to make a payment to a foreign official to speed up an administrative process, for example, arranging on behalf of a client to clear their goods through customs.
In such circumstances, you will be committing the offence of bribing a foreign public official as soon as you make this offer. This is because it is made to gain a business advantage on behalf of a client through ourselves as their representative. This means that this firm will also be at risk of committing this offence.
Gifts and Hospitality
This Policy does not prohibit normal, proportionate and appropriate hospitality (given and received) to or from third parties.
What is acceptable?
You are not prohibited from accepting a gift or giving a gift to a third party, if the following requirements are met:
(a) there is no intention to influence a third party to obtain or retain business or a business advantage, or to seek the provision or retention of business or a business advantage, or an explicit or implicit exchange for favours or benefits;
(b) it complies with local law;
(c) it is given in the Firm's name and not in your name;
(d) it does not include cash or a cash equivalent (such as gift certificates or vouchers);
(e) it is appropriate in the circumstances, for example small gifts given at Christmas time;
(f) taking into account the reason for the gift, it is of an appropriate type and value and given at an appropriate time;
(g) it is given openly, not secretly; and
(h) gifts should not be offered to or accepted from, government officials or representatives, or politicians or political parties without the prior approval of the Firm's Managing Partner or in the event of his absence the Firm's Compliance Solicitor.
This Firm appreciates that the practice of giving business gifts varies between countries and regions and what may be normal and acceptable in one region may not be in another. The test to be applied is whether in all the circumstances the gift or hospitality is reasonable and justifiable. The intention behind the gift should also be considered.
What is not acceptable?
It is not acceptable for you (or someone on your behalf) to;
(a) give, promise to give, or offer, a payment, gift or hospitality with the expectation or hope that a business advantage will be received, or to reward a business advantage already given;
(b) give, promise to give, or offer, a payment, gift or hospitality to a government official, agent or representative to "facilitate" or expedite a routine procedure;
(c) accept a payment from a third party that you know or suspect that it is offered with the expectation that it will obtain a business advantage for them;
(d) accept a gift or hospitality from a third party if you know or suspect that it is offered or provided with an expectation that a business advantage will be provided in return;
(e) threaten or retaliate against another worker who has refused to commit a bribery offence or who has raised concerns to the Firm under this Policy; or
(f) engage in any activity that might lead to a breach of this Policy.
Facilitation Payments and Kickbacks
This Firm does not make and will not accept, facilitation payments or "kickbacks" of any kind. Facilitation payments are typically small unofficial payments made to secure or expedite a routine government action by a government official. They are not commonly paid in the UK but are common in other jurisdictions in which we operate.
If you are asked to make a payment on our behalf, you should always be mindful of what the payment is for and whether the amount requested is proportionate to the goods and services provided or for the purposes of the client matter we are dealing with. You should always ask for a receipt which details the reasons for the payment which has been made. If you have any suspicions, concerns or queries regarding a payment, you should raise these immediately with the Firm's Compliance Solicitor.
Kickbacks are typically payments made in return for a business favour or advantage. All workers must avoid any activity that might lead to, or suggest, that a facilitation payment or kickback would be made or accepted by us.
This Firm does not make contributions to political parties. We only make charitable donations that are legal and ethical under national and local laws and practices. No donation to a charity based outside of the UK jurisdiction must be offered or made without the prior approval of the Firm's Managing Partner.
You must ensure that you read, understand and comply with this Policy.
The prevention, detection and reporting of bribery and other forms of corruption are the responsibility of all those working for us under our control. All workers are required to avoid any activity that might lead to, or suggest, a breach of this Policy.
You must notify the Firm's Compliance Solicitor as soon as possible if you believe or suspect that a conflict with this Policy has occurred, or may occur in the future. For example, if a client or potential client offers you something to gain a business advantage with us, or indicates to you that a gift or payment is required to secure their business. Further "red flags" that may indicate bribery or corruption are set out in the Schedule to this Policy.
Any worker who breaches this Policy will face disciplinary action, which could result in dismissal for gross misconduct or termination of our contractual relationship with them.
This Firm is obliged to keep financial records and have appropriate internal controls in place which will evidence the business reason for making payments to third parties.
You must declare and keep a written record of all hospitality or gift accepted or offered which will be subject to managerial review.
You must ensure that all expenses claims relating to hospitality, gifts or expenses incurred to third parties are submitted in accordance with our current accounting procedures, specifically recording the reason for the expenditure.
All accounts, invoices, memoranda and other documents relating to dealings with third parties, such as clients, suppliers and business contacts, should be prepared and maintained with strict accuracy and completeness in accordance with our current accountancy practices.
How to raise a concern under this Policy
You are encouraged to raise concerns about any issue or suspicion of malpractice at the earliest possible stage. If you are unsure whether a particular act constitutes bribery or corruption, or if you have any other queries, these should be raised with the Firm's Compliance Solicitor straightaway.
What you should do if you are a potential or actual victim of Bribery.
If you believe that you may be being bribed or that someone is seeking to obtain a bribe from you, you should immediately inform the Firm's Compliance Solicitor as soon as possible. You should not accept or make the bribe or promise to receive or make the bribe to the third party concerned. The Firm's Compliance Solicitor will advise you as to what course of action should be taken as a result of a bribe being offered or requested in accordance with the terms of this Policy.
Workers who refuse to accept or offer a bribe, or those who raise concerns or report others wrongdoing, are sometimes worried about possible repercussions. It is the aim of this Firm to encourage openness and it will support anyone who raises a genuine concern in good faith under the provisions of this Policy, even if they subsequently turn out to have been mistaken.
This Firm is committed to ensuring that no-one suffers any detrimental treatment as a result of refusing to take part in bribery or corruption or by reporting in good faith their suspicion that a actual or potential bribery or other corruption offence has taken place, or may take place in the future. Detrimental treatment includes dismissal, disciplinary action, threats or other unfavourable treatment connected with raising a concern. If you believe that you have suffered any such treatment, you should inform the Firm's Compliance Solicitor immediately. If the matter is not remedied and you are an employee you should raise it formally using our Grievance Procedure.
Training and Communication
Training on this Policy forms part of the induction process for all new workers. All existing workers will receive regular, relevant training on how to implement and adhere to this Policy.
Our zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption will be communicated to all suppliers, contractors and business partners at the outset of our business relationship with them and as appropriate thereafter.
Who is responsible for the Policy?
The Firm's management has overall responsibility for ensuring this policy complies with our legal and ethical obligations and that all those under our control comply with it.
The Firm's Compliance Solicitor has primary day-to-day responsibility for implementing this Policy and for monitoring its use and effectiveness and dealing with any queries on its interpretation. Management at all levels are responsible for ensuring those reporting to them are made aware of and understand this Policy and that they are given adequate and regular training on it which will be provided by the Firm's Compliance Unit.
Monitoring and Review
The Firm's Compliance Solicitor will monitor the effectiveness and review the implementation of this Policy, regularly considering its suitability, adequacy and effectiveness. Any improvements identified will be made as soon as possible.
All workers are responsible for the success of this Policy and should ensure they use it to disclose any suspected or actual bribery that may be taking place.
Workers are invited to comment on this Policy and suggest ways in which it might be improved. Comments, suggestions and queries should be addressed to the Firm's Compliance Solicitor.
This Policy does not form part of any employees contract of employment and it may be amended at any time.
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