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The Bribery Act: The nemesis of the mid-sized business

A recent report, compiled by BDO has suggested that a Bribery Act reform would benefit mid-sized firms exports, as they would then be encouraged to trade overseas - if they were not encumbered by the convolution and administration involved in complying with the Bribery Act.

Mid-sized business are somewhat of an unsung hero of the British economy. Whilst they represent less than 1% of firms, they turn over between around £10m and £500m, accounting for 22% of the entire economic revenue and 16% of total employment.[1]

BDO’s analysis proposes that Britain’s waning international trade could be boosted by encouraging these companies to sell more overseas and ‘to making progress towards the government’s target of doubling exports to £1 trillion by 2020’.[2]

The Bribery Act which came into force, in 2011, has had a particular impact on firms that trade overseas because it has created the misconception that it is too complex to do business with UK firms as it is harder for them to export.

Jaan Larner, a Corporate and Commercial expert at Keystone Law responded to report saying,

“Unlike new or established businesses, the Bribery Act has undoubtedly created a burden on mid-sized businesses, which appears to be disproportionate to the harm it seeks to prevent. Smaller firms struggling to survive and grow often simply add Bribery Act compliance to the bottom of a lengthy to–do list, adopting the rationale that if the company fails, compliance with the Act is irrelevant, so it can wait. Conversely, larger businesses usually have a human resource/regulatory function, so Bribery Act compliance fits right in.

Regulatory regimes often only start to operate above a certain threshold of, say, turnover or staff numbers. So while it will deprive many professionals advising on this issue of work (including Lawyers) such a threshold approach would go a long way to making life easier for medium-sized businesses, which would benefit the economy as a whole.

In short: Smaller businesses don’t care and bigger businesses don’t notice. Mid-sized businesses don’t have a choice.”


[1] http://www.cbi.org.uk/media/1125696/cbi_future_champions_report.pdf

[2] http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/entrepreneur/article4262514.ece

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.

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