news article

Kickbacks and bribery in the landscape industry

10 Feb 2021 | Technical News

A report, Global Construction 2030, estimates the value of global construction output will reach $15.5 trillion by the end of 2030. If this figure wasn’t impressive on its own, recent estimates suggest as much as 30% of this value could be lost to corruption within the industry.  

It has been brought to BALI’s attention that it appears there are instances of bribery going on in the landscape industry. Some of these are unintentional; when the word bribery is replaced with friendlier words such as ‘kickback’ or ‘facilitation payment’ some landscape professionals are less sure of the legality and are more likely to participate.    

Many industries were encouraged to take a fresh look at their approach to tackling bribery when The Bribery Act 2010 was launched in July 2011. This Act placed liabilities on employers who did not take steps to ensure their business – and their employees – were not involved in bribery. The specific wording in the Act is as follows:

You will not commit the offence of failing to prevent bribery if you can show that your organisation had ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent bribery.

The assessment of ‘adequate’ depends on the bribery risks the business faces, together with the size, nature and complexity of the business. The Act outlines six principles which businesses must consider when evaluating the steps they need to take:

1.     Proportionality: Action should be proportional to the risks  

2.     Top level commitment: Those at the top of the business should lead

3.     Risk assessment: Consider what risk of bribery does your market poses

4.     Due diligence: Checks on who you employ and who you do business with

5.     Communication: Liaison with staff to ensure bribery is not tolerated in the business

6.     Monitoring and Review: The review process must be reviewed regularly.

Most businesses now have an anti-bribery policy, which is an excellent way of demonstrating compliance with the law. This policy will form part of the employee induction and employee handbook. BALI members have free access to a bribery policy via Quest.

Does the landscape industry have a problem with bribery? 

Whilst the value of the landscape industry is measured in billions rather than trillions, even 5% of this figure is a significant amount - and certainly not something the industry wants to cover the cost of. 

The Bribery Act 2010 defines bribery as giving someone a financial or other advantage to encourage that person to perform their functions or activities improperly or to reward that person for having already done so. An organisation may be liable for failing to prevent a person from bribing someone on your behalf.

A common bribery scenario in the landscape industry concerns payments between designers and contractors. One party will introduce the other party to a client and may request a payment for this, the cost of which is undisclosed to the client when added to the bill charged to the client either by the contractor or designer. 

For the avoidance of doubt, the practice outlined above, and anything that resembles it, is illegal and any BALI member who is invited to participate in such a transaction should decline. BALI strongly discourages any members to work with businesses who operate in such a manner.  


Further reading:

The Bribery Act: Quick Start Guide


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