It’s never too early to evaluate your tendering process with compliance-tinted glasses. Which compliance errors will haunt you this year, or in years to come? What actions can you take now to avoid harder penalties in the future?

Which UK acts and regulations should you be looking out for in 2020?

The Bribery Act 2010 (UKBA).

The  UKBA  was introduced to enhance  UK  law on bribery  (domestic and foreign). Offences are prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”). The primarily relevant offence to be aware of with tendering is Section 7(1)of the UKBA (Failure of commercial organisations to prevent Bribery).

A worst-case scenario:

You are a multinational with operations/employees in the UK. You enter the procurement  process with a  broker or procurement intermediary as an agent, acting on your behalf during tendering.  The broker, without your knowledge, uses bribery (which could cover hospitality and ‘facilitation payments’)  to secure a successful bid. Whistle-blower uncovers bribery and reports. You are liable under section 7(1) of the UKBA despite no knowledge of the bribe.

Other than reputational damage, the consequences could involve:

  • Non-mandatory debarment  from  bidding  for  public  procurement  work; and/or
  • Deferred prosecution  agreements  with  the  SFO  (for  g. in  2017  Tesco settled for £129 million, Rolls-Royce for £500 million)
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How to avoid this fate

One important defence is to demonstrate that your company has “adequate procedures” in place to prevent bribery. Going forward, make sure your processes are transparent and easily auditable.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA)

The MSA aims to eliminate slavery and human trafficking in the UK.

Section 54(1) of the MSA focuses on transparency in supply chains.  The  MSA requires organisations  to produce  and  publish  an annual  statement  evidencing exactly what they have done to ensure that there is no modern slavery anywhere in their supply chain

A worst-case scenario:

You instruct a  broker or procurement intermediary as an agent to procure bids.  The broker awards the contract to the most cost-efficient bidder,  but without your knowledge, the successful bidder maintains low-prices by using illegal low costs/child labour.

This could lead to:

  • Civil action in the High Court; or
  • Secretary of state may obtain an injunction requiring adherence

And of course, reputational damage.

How to avoid this fate

Companies have to invest in the transparency, legality and propriety of their supply chain. Using an auditable and traceable platform at the tendering and contracting stages is an integral part of this investment, as they can monitor and audit for red flags and include this step in their annual statement.

In other words, you should check out DeepStream.

Leaving old habits in the past

While these scenarios shown by the ghosts of compliant futures are the most obvious ones, there are many other habits that could leave you open to many risks. For example, using unsecure methods of sharing sensitive documentation, such as email, could make you run foul of GDPR. Indeed, email and other unsecure methods of exchange put you at a higher risk of a data breach.

compliance procurementLooking to a compliant future

It’s time to switch to a process that gives you greater peace of mind. DeepStream is a powerful, auditable and secure digital tendering platform. Get greater control over your tendering process whilst significantly reducing your admin headaches.

Sounds good? Check out our video demo here to find out more.

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