The Bribery Act 2010

ISO 17025 requires a statement in the Quality Manual that staff will not participate in bribery and corruption.   This sounds good to me but not everyone agrees it’s so simple.  In fact most of the world’s population probably thinks otherwise.

File:World Map Index of perception of corruption 2010.svg

This clause has been made redundant in the UK by the Bribery Act 2010 which now makes asking for, offering or receiving bribes a strict liability offence.  Legislation trumps pseudo-legislation.  Maybe.

One wonders how this commendable element of the ISO standard will fare in countries where bribery and corruption are a normal part of how business is done.  Fred Reed explains here how corruption works in different parts of the world.  Even in the less corrupt parts of the world it has been shown that maintaining the idealism of the ISO standards against common sense efficiency obliges cheating to satisfy the bureaucrats and their inspectors.

You can view international legislation on bribery here: OECD Anti-Bribery Convention: National Implementing Legislation.  I wonder if it makes much difference, or if, like banning slavery, it merely directs the behaviour into different forms?

Readers might like to consider the prospects of either an ISO standard or a Bribery Act controlling corruption after reviewing Theodore Dalrymple‘s estimation of Britain as “now a very corrupt country.” Resistance to corruption comes not through legal or ISO standards but from the decisions of individuals to follow higher standards of behaviour. Dalrymple suggests two reasons why criminality is tolerated by the establishment: sentimentality, and the need to provide employment for lawyers.

There is a third reason.  If the just punishment were consistently delivered, what would one day happen to ourselves?  Exonerating the plainly guilty gives us hope that we too may escape what we sometimes suspect we deserve.

What distinguishes people morally is who cares for the bureaucrats and who cares for the victims?

If bribery and corruption are the way most of the world does business, and the ISO standard is accredited internationally, how many, really,  are following it on the anti-bribery point?

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