UK companies should make sure they are prepared for the effects of a terrorist attack, following the news that MI5 is now publishing the official terror threat to Britain on its website, say risk and

There is increasing danger that businesses could find themselves with a liability claim following a terrorist event. In a European precedent, French shipbuilder Direction des Constructions Navales was found negligent in its duty of care after employees that it sent to Pakistan were killed in the 2002 Karachi car bomb terrorist attack.

Rob Preston, terrorism risk consultant, Aon crisis management team, suggests a four step approach to managing the risk.

First, companies need to inform themselves about the threat - ignorance is no longer a mitigating factor. This was established in respect of the World Trade Center attack, when the judge ruled that the class actions against the Port Authority of New York could continue because the event was foreseeable. The Authority should have known it was an attractive target because it had been attacked before, and should also have been aware that terrorists were aspiring to use planes, because this was a feature of the 1995 Bojinka plot.

Second, says Preston, companies must respond appropriately. For example, an organisation with an underground car park in the City of London should introduce appropriate access controls if there is an increased threat of vehicle devices.

Third, companies in high risk areas need to take reasonable and appropriate physical protection, such as blast proofing the lower floors of their buildings. And finally they should design and rehearse plans and procedures to reduce the likelihood of terrorist attack and the effects of one, should it occur.