Northern Ireland companies could find themselves in the dock unless they plan for new UK bribery laws which are set to be implemented next year.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) said the new law will deem it an offence by any company or any partnership regardless of size or line of business, if an individual employee, subsidiary or agent of that firm gives, offers or takes a bribe.
Brian McGuire of ACCA said: "Businesses need to devise customised anti-bribery corporate policies for staff which reflect the particular circumstances of the company and its industry.
"The more extensive the structure and operations the firm has, the more detailed the policy will have to be."
Under the new law, there will be four forms of bribery offence but one would have particular relevance in Northern Ireland.
Mr McGuire said: "It is within clause seven of the fourth offence that is most pertinent for local companies. An offence is judged to have been committed by a business where someone acting on its behalf is deemed to have committed an act of bribery.
"I'd urge local firms to draft and adopt robust ethics and compliance programmes to counteract this new challenge to the whole business community."