UK: Recent Anti-Bribery Decision Could Have Far-Reaching Consequences

Last Updated: 13 July 2018
Article by Kevin Clancy

In a recent decision, two individuals were sentenced for Bribery Act 2010 offences (bribing a person, and being bribed). The outcome of those criminal proceedings is instructive, both in terms of (1) illustrating the consequences to company directors of being found guilty of bribery offences, as well as, (2) providing some guidance to commercial organisations as to what might be meant by "adequate procedures".

The criminal conduct

The prosecution arose out of financial payments made by Stephen Banks, former managing director of Skansen Interiors Ltd (Skansen), to Graham Deakin, former project manager of DTZ Ltd. Mr Banks paid £10,000 to Mr Deakin (with the promise of further payments) during 2012 and 2013 to provide information that would assist Skansen secure contracts with DTZ. Skansen went on to secure contracts worth £6 million.

Having been charged with offences under the Bribery Act 2010, both men pleaded guilty. Mr Banks was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, whilst Mr Deakin was sentenced to 20 months' imprisonment and both were also disqualified from acting as a director of a company, for a period of six years and seven years respectively.

Those sanctions are also consistent with how courts in Scotland have previous dealt with corruption offences; in prosecutions arising out of the unlawful payments made in connection with Edinburgh Council building repairs - albeit, the individuals were charged under the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889 – the Crown sought the imposition of director disqualification orders (five years) in addition to custodial sentences imposed by the Sheriff (between two and five years).

Consequences for the company

That criminal conduct was discovered at all was due to Skansen appointing a new CEO in 2014, and, having conducted an internal investigation, thereafter the company self-reported it's employee's actions to the National Crime Agency and to the police.

In separate criminal court proceedings, Skansen was charged under section 7(1) of the 2010 Act, on the basis that the bribe obtained business for Skansen.

Skansen sought to defend its position, relying on section 7(2) of the 2010 Act which provides that it is a defence for a commercial organisation to prove that it had in place "adequate procedures" to prevent the unlawful conduct.

The matter went to trial and, in March of this year, the jury returned a guilty verdict. Although no reasons are given by the jury, it can be assumed that the jury did not consider the controls that were instituted by Skansen to be sufficient or adequate.

What was argued on behalf of Skansen must be viewed in context. Skansen was a small company, employing around 30 people. It was said to have operated from a small office, and did not conduct its business on the international level.

As such, when attempting to make out the section 7 defence, Skansen relied on what might be described as 'softer controls' rather than an audit trail of paperwork: for example, no specific anti-bribery policy was needed on the basis that the small number of staff knew that bribery was wrong, there was a culture of honesty and integrity within the company, and financial/ contractual controls had been put in place.

What can be learned from this prosecution?

What can be observed is that a business asserting it has an 'ethical culture' is not going to be sufficient in the absence of any evidence to support that claim. Organisations will need to give thought as to what records demonstrating compliance exist, what processes were put in place in response to the Bribery Act coming into effect (and modified/reviewed in the intervening years), how policy and procedures are communicated to employees, and what training is in place to supplement the written policies.

It is also revealing that the CPS insisted on prosecuting Skansen at all. The circumstances of the case were a little unusual in that Skansen, by 2015, was dormant (although had been part of the wider Skansen Group Limited), had no assets and would be unable to meet any financial penalty imposed by the court. The company's position had also been to fully assist and co-operate with the investigation into the alleged criminal conduct.

Given Skansen had no assets or ability to meet a fine, the judge was only able to impose an absolute discharge, with the consequence that ultimately no financial penalty was imposed on the company following the trial.

Plainly, the decision of the CPS to prosecute was more about sending a message rather than the likelihood of any fine being imposed.

What next?

It remains to be seen whether the strong message sent out by the CPS might then need to be balanced against whether this case may have any impact on the future willingness of companies to self-report wrongdoing or rogue directors.

In addition, the message sent out by the Court in dealing with the first contested section 7 prosecution is equally strong, possibly setting the bar for a successful adequate procedures defence higher than commentators may have previously considered likely.

The Ministry of Justice guidance anticipates that commercial organisations will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their bribery prevention procedures and adapt them when necessary.

Senior managers would be well advised to use the Skansen case as a timely reminder to review the procedures that have been (or need to be) put in place to prevent bribery occurring.

Being able to demonstrate that a company has proactively considered its adequate procedures, rather than reactively dealing with the matter when corruption has been uncovered, will be significant for a successful section 7 defence.

Senior managers may wish to seek assistance from their legal advisers, and consider the MOJ guidance, in order to ensure a proportionate assessment of risk has been carried out. Equally important is to assess the robustness of policies, procedures, and training so senior managers can satisfy themselves that adequate procedures are in place to prevent bribery and to protect the organisation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions