|Creation date||January 2021|
|Issue date||February 2021|
Managing Director and
Compliance Officer for Legal Practice
|Sophie Huntbach Document Owner|
|Next review date||January 2022|
|Remarks||Updated with new brand 24.06.2021|
Trenches Limited (‘Company’, ‘Trenches’, ‘We’, or ‘Our’) sets out the below policy in relation to the Solicitors Regulation Authorities Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELS and RFLS and the Anti-bribery Act 2010.
Trenches Ltd is committed to the practice of responsible corporate behaviour and to complying with all laws, regulations and other requirements which govern the conduct of our operations.
The Company is fully committed to instilling a strong anti-corruption culture and is fully committed to compliance with all anti-bribery and anti-corruption legislation including, but not limited to, the Bribery Act 2010 (“the Act”) and ensures that no bribes or other corrupt payments, inducements or similar are made, offered, sought or obtained by us or anyone working on our behalf.
Corruption and bribery
Corruption is the misuse of office or power for private gain. Bribery is a form of corruption. Bribery is defined as the giving or promising of a financial or other advantage to another party where that advantage is intended to induce the other party to perform a particular function improperly, to reward them for the same, or where the acceptance of that advantage is improper conduct.
Bribery is also deemed to take place if any party requests or agrees to receive a financial or other advantage from another party where that advantage is intended to induce that party to perform a particular function improperly, where the acceptance of that advantage is improper conduct, or where that party acts improperly in anticipation of such advantage.
Bribery of a foreign official is defined as the giving or promising of a financial or other advantage which is intended to influence the official to obtain business or an advantage in the conduct of business unless the foreign official is required or permitted by law to be influenced by such advantage.
It may include giving or receiving money, gifts, meals, entertainment or anything else of value
as an inducement to a person to do something which is dishonest or illegal while doing business. In other words, bribery is designed to make a person act wrongly to secure an advantage for the giver.
Consequences of bribery
Anyone or any organisation found guilty of bribery under the Act may face fines and/or prison terms. In addition, high legal costs and adverse publicity are likely to result from any breach of the Act.
For employees of the Company, failure to comply with this Policy and/or with the Act may result in:
disciplinary action which may include dismissal; and criminal penalties under the Act which may result in a fine and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years.
For the Company, any breach of this Policy by any employee or business associate may result in:
- the Company being deemed to be in breach of the Act;
- the Company being subject to fines; and
- the Company suffering negative publicity and further associated damage because of such breach.
Our position on bribery
Our position is simple. We conduct our business to the highest legal and ethical standards. We will not be party to corruption or bribery in any form. Such acts damage our reputation and expose us, and our employees, to the risk of fines and imprisonment. We take a zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption by our people and our third-party representatives.
Responsibility for compliance and scope of policy
This policy applies to all employees, agents, contractors, subcontractors, consultants, business partners and any other parties (including individuals, partnerships and bodies corporate) associated with the Company or any of its subsidiaries.
It is the responsibility of all the above-mentioned parties to ensure that bribery is prevented, detected and reported and all such reports should be made in accordance with the Company’s Whistleblowing Policy or as otherwise stated in this policy, as appropriate.
No party described above may:
- give or promise any financial or other advantage to another party (or use a third party to do the same) on the Company’s behalf where that advantage is intended to induce the other party to perform a particular function improperly, to reward them for the same, or where the acceptance of that advantage will constitute improper conduct
- request or agree to receive any financial or other advantage from another party where that advantage is intended to induce the improper performance of a particular function, where the acceptance of that advantage will constitute improper conduct, or where the recipient intends to act improperly in anticipation of such an advantage.
Parties described above must:
- be aware and alert at all times of all bribery risks as described in this policy and as set out below
- exercise due diligence always when dealing with third parties on behalf of the Company; and
- report all concerns relating to bribery to Sharon McDermott (COLP) or, in the case of non-employees, their normal point of contact within the Company, or otherwise in accordance with the Company’s Whistleblowing Policy.
Where there is a concern an internal Suspicious Activity Report SAR will be completed, sent to Sharon McDermott and the concern entered on the register. Where the matter is a material breach of compliance, she will also inform the SRA and, if appropriate, other relevant authorities.
Due Diligence and risks
The following issues should be considered with care in all transactions, dealings with officials, and other business matters concerning third parties:
- Territorial risks, particularly the prevalence of bribery and corruption in a particular country
- Cross-border payments, particularly those involving territories falling under section 9.1
- Requests for cash payment, payment through intermediaries or other unusual methods of payment
- Activities requiring the Company and / or any associated party to obtain permits or other forms of official authorisation
- Transactions involving the import or export of goods
Areas of specific risk
There are certain aspects of practice work that could contain a higher risk:
- gifts and hospitality
- donations (charitable or others)
- commissions and other financial benefits
- facilitation payments
A facilitation payment is defined as a small payment made to officials to ensure or speed up the performance of routine or necessary functions. Facilitation payments constitute bribes and, subject to the above, may not be made at any time irrespective of prevailing business customs in certain territories. Facilitation or similar payments may be made in limited circumstances where your life is in danger but under no other circumstances. Any payment so made must be reported to Sharon McDermott COLP as soon as is reasonably possible and practicable.
Gifts and hospitality
Gifts and hospitality remain a legitimate part of conducting business and should be provided only in compliance with the Company’s Gifts and Hospitality Policy which is set out below.
Gifts and hospitality can, when excessive, constitute a bribe and/or a conflict of interest. Care and due diligence should be always exercised when giving or receiving any form of gift or hospitality on behalf of the Company.
The following general principles apply:
- Gifts and hospitality may neither be given nor received as rewards, inducements or encouragement for preferential treatment or inappropriate or dishonest conduct.
- Neither gifts nor hospitality should be actively sought or encouraged from any party, nor should the impression be given that the award of any business, custom, contract or similar will be in any way conditional on gifts or hospitality.
- Cash should be neither given nor received as a gift under any circumstances.
- Gifts and hospitality to or from relevant parties should be generally avoided at the time of contracts being tendered or awarded.
- The value of all gifts and hospitality, whether given or received, should be proportionate to the matter to which they relate and should not be unusually high or generous when compared to prevailing practices in our industry or sector.
Our position on gifts and hospitality:
We will not seek or request any gift or hospitality in the course of our work or offer or receive from any person or organisation who has had, has or may have any influence over the firm.
Gifts may be accepted in the circumstances set out below:
- a personal or corporate gift to a value more than £250.00 in a cumulative 12-month period or
- hospitality to a value more than £250.00
- We will never offer or receive any gift or hospitality that is in breach of relevant law.
- Reciprocal gifting is not encouraged. However, there may be circumstances where the failure to give a gift would give offence. In these circumstances, express authority must be sought from the appropriate manager, prior to any such gifting.
- We will not directly or indirectly, make an offer of, or donate to any political, charitable or not-for-profit organisation in the course of your employment to obtain an advantage for the firm.
Certain gifts which would otherwise be in breach of this Policy and/or the Hospitality and Gifts Policy may be accepted if refusal would cause significant and/or cultural offence, however the Company will donate any gifts accepted for such reasons to a charity of Sharon McDermott’s choosing.
All gifts and hospitality, whether given or received, must be recorded in the hospitality, gifts and donations register which is located in Policies and Procedures> Registers.
Charitable donations are permitted only to registered (non-profit) charities. No charitable donations may be given to any organisation which is not a registered charity. All charitable donations must be fully recorded in the Hospitality, gifts and donations register. Proof of receipt of all charitable donations must be obtained from the recipient organisation. Under no circumstances may charitable donations be made in cash. No charitable donation may be made at the request of any party where that donation may result in improper conduct.
The Company does not make political donations and the Company is not affiliated with any political party, independent candidate, or with any other organisation whose activities are primarily political. Employees and other associated parties are free to make personal donations provided such payments are not purported to be made on behalf of the Company and are not made to obtain any form of advantage in any business transaction.
Commissions and Financial Benefits
As a general principle and as per our business plan, we avoid working in situations that would involve us receiving or paying commission for work provided. If in doubt, or in exceptional circumstances, consult with the appropriate manager, before accepting any such arrangements. A record of the commission will be kept in the hospitality, gifts and donations register.
Intermediaries may be consultants, advisors, other lawyers, agents, suppliers, distributors or other third parties, who assist with our business. We will only use those intermediaries that are approved by the appropriate manager.