Modern Bribery Law

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These documents evidence that bribery has become a genuine compliance issue that companies are addressing through due diligence mechanisms. The Annex also contains a glossary of words related to bribery. Although GSK has a stricter prohibition of forced labour as compared to many other companies, there is an important difference in legal status between the clauses on forced labour and bribery. The principles about bribery are more detailed, refer to compliance with laws and, above all, also refer to the ways that third parties such as suppliers who act for GSK must ensure that there is no bribery in their dealings with other third parties.

The level of detail that GSK applies to the requirements clearly constitute due diligence mechanisms. A further interesting comparison suggesting that bribery has become a genuine compliance issue, while forced labour has not, regards the respective significance attached to these issues within their codes of conduct. Significantly, Imperial Brands has been extensively criticized for the existence of forced labour in its supply chain Rodionova, The relative weight given to bribery over forced labour within contractual documents is thus especially surprising.

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Relatedly, we found that the language that companies use to communicate governance standards and practices related to bribery and forced labour also differs significantly. The language communicating forced labour policies within codes of conduct is much more aspirational. Each of us can play a role in the elimination of human rights abuses such as child labour, human trafficking and forced labour. Assessment of statements issued under the Modern Slavery Act reveal that these documents, too, seldom go beyond aspirations.

The differences in company language surrounding bribery and forced labour send a clear message that while companies will not tolerate bribery in any form at any time within their global supply chains, they merely hope to eliminate forced labour. Finally, we found that bribery is afforded a much more prominent role in company CSR and sustainability reporting.

It is also more frequently specifically referenced in the other documents that we looked at e.

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Forced labour is only addressed once, on page 57 out of In addition to receiving frequent mention, company reporting on bribery was also of a higher quality. The strong priority given to bribery within private governance instruments communicates to suppliers that companies are serious about this issue. Contrarily, the low priority given to forced labour signals to suppliers that companies are not serious about this issue. We observed a clear hierarchy between the bribery and forced labour in terms of contractual stringency, the language that is being used and the quantity and quality of reporting.

Bribery clearly is a compliance issue for companies which they address through due diligence mechanisms whereas forced labour is — despite also being illegal in most countries, and despite being a gross human rights violation — dealt with in a more aspirational, less stringent way. Our closer look at Vodafone provides interesting additional insight into the differences in corporate strategy in relation to bribery and forced labour and how their strategy has evolved and been influenced by the Acts over time.

Whereas prior to the introduction of the Bribery Act, Vodafone's CSR reports in and did not mention bribery at all, the situation changed when the Bribery Act came into force in July The report refers to bribery three times. While the was not available, the report mentions bribery 19 times excluding titles and 20 times including titles and, in , this figure rose further, as bribery was mentioned 28 times 29 times including titles. The report refers to bribery 34 times 40 times including titles and the latest report in mentions it 41 times 43 with titles.

Modern slavery, bribery and corruption: corporate compliance with legal frameworks

Importantly for the analysis here, this programme includes due diligence mechanisms. It therefore appears that the introduction of the Bribery Act prompted significant changes in Vodafone's CSR efforts to prevent bribery in its supply chain. This argument is further supported by the statement of Rosemary Martin, the company's general legal counsel, that she established a formal compliance team after she took over her role in April Her comments further support the view that the design of the Bribery Act steered corporate behaviour in a way that companies developed compliance mechanisms for the prevention of bribery.

In the meantime, the approach to forced labour in Vodafone's reports between and was relatively steady. From to , forced labour was only mentioned once in a chart that contained information about performance issues that Vodafone had identified at supplier factories.

Following the coming into force of the Act, the number of references increased to 10 in the report; however, in reality, there were again only three references in the text of the sustainability report and one in a chart and the other six were part of the statutory slavery and human trafficking statement which Vodafone added to its annual sustainability report. Therefore, the reporting has not been significantly altered in the wake of the new legislative environment.

Moreover, the policies that the company applies to the two issues according to its report continue to differ in their stringency.

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In contrast, the description of the risks of forced labour and Vodafone's responses to those risks amount to less than half a page Vodafone , p. In summary, the analysis of the documents of Vodafone as a case study of one company adds further support to the view taken here that the way that companies are dealing with the issues of bribery and forced labour differs markedly and that the regulation of bribery has spurred more substantive changes in corporate behaviour. This raises critical questions about the significant differences occur in the quality of national legislation, and especially, the politics of bargaining processes that underpin their formation.

That the Modern Slavery Act fails to establish new public labour standards or enforcement mechanisms is significant, given the differences we observe between company policies and practices on bribery and forced labour.


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Although it is possible that company strategy could still evolve, we are sceptical that this legislation will result in meaningful changes to company and supplier policies on forced labour, given the shortcomings we have documented in its institutional design. There is a need for further study of this phenomenon, not only in home state legislation, but in relation to public governance of labour standards more generally. Her current research focuses on the business of forced labour in global supply chains and the politics and effectiveness of governance initiatives to combat it.

Global Anti‑Bribery and Anti‑Corruption Laws:

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Bribery and Corruption - The Bribery Act

Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Abstract The home states of multinational enterprises have in recent years sought to use public regulation to fill the gaps left by the absence of a binding labour standards framework in international law. Exploring the differential impact of UK legislation on bribery and modern slavery Research approach In the remainder of the paper, we analyse the impact of the Bribery Act and Modern Slavery Act on company strategy.

Higher quantity and better quality of reporting Finally, we found that bribery is afforded a much more prominent role in company CSR and sustainability reporting. Vodafone's approach to bribery and forced labour since Our closer look at Vodafone provides interesting additional insight into the differences in corporate strategy in relation to bribery and forced labour and how their strategy has evolved and been influenced by the Acts over time.

Abbott, K. Google Scholar. Crossref Google Scholar. UK Modern Slavery Act , section UK Bribery Act Citing Literature. References Related Information. Close Figure Viewer. Browse All Figures Return to Figure.

Bribery and corruption reform: proposed modern UK laws target companies and LLPs

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watch Request Username Can't sign in? Forgot your username? This Practice Note explains the process of debarment for bribery convictions in the context of public procurement under the Public Contracts Regulations , highlighting where the power to debar comes from and when it applies to offences under the Bribery Act It may take a few minutes to reach its recipient s depending on the size of the document s. Sign up now not now.