Antibribery Laws in Europe: the Italian Way
Many European countries have promulgated anticorruption laws. Italy has adopted in 2001 its own antibribery law (L. 231/2001) with peculiarities that brought the Italian law to be recognized internationally as one of the most effective anticorruption laws.
EU and other international organizations for decades have urged countries to promulgate anticorruption laws. Italy has been one of the first countries to adopt an antibribery law in 2001 (Law n. 231/2001).
The UK Antibribery law came into force only on 1 July 2011, Spain has promulgated the anticorruption law on 2010 (Ley Organica 2010) and France adopted its antibribery law only on 2017 (Loi Sapin II).
The Italian anticorruption law was so successful that the Italian Parliament decided during the years to include in the list of crimes ruled by the anticorruption law (L. 231/2001) about 140 crimes (concerning various and totally different areas, as for example IP and H&S).
The Italian law has been also much appreciated in Europe and Spain decided in 2015 to definitively copy the structure of the Italian law.
Why has the Italian antibribery law been so successful?
The Italian law states that companies are responsible for crimes committed by their employees on the behalf or at the interest of the companies themselves.
Companies may defend themselves from such liability adopting a document (called Model) that includes all relevant company mandatory rules for employees finalized to avoid or limit the risks of commission of crimes.
Furthermore, companies shall incorporate a Surveillance Panel whose members must be autonomous, independent and professionals, with the mandate to control the employees’ correct application of the rules listed in the Model, and to verify that such rules are efficient and effective.
If the Model is correctly designed and the Surveillance Panel works properly, the company can avoid or limit the risks to be sanctioned because of a crime committed by its employees at its interest or benefit.
These two requirements together may so avoid or limit the company risks of sanctions.
This is the first relevant peculiarity of the Italian law on antibribery. Normally european laws provide just for the adoption of a Model: the Italian law, on the contrary, requires also a continuous control of the company activities and of the effectiveness of the antibribery rules.
Another important peculiarity of the Italian antibribery law regards the sanctions that companies risk. Among them, the ban from any future relations with the public administrations is a very strong deterrent as well as the appointment of a trustee to manage the company.