Worried about the Bribery Act?

New UK corruption laws are perplexing bosses where hospitality is part of the job. With no legal precedent set, it’s hard to know where to draw the line. 

What constitutes “reasonable and proportionate hospitality” is up for debate.  Can you take prospects on an all expenses weekend by helicopter over the Olympic Village? Very unlikely. Can the London Games organisers? Probably, yes. 

·    Can ‘entertainment’ of prospects land you in jail?

·    Will a ‘wine and dine’ evening result in a hefty fine?

·    If a business deal is done abroad, are there consequences? 

Well, put simply, yes - bungs and dodgy deals will doubtless become a thing of the past and we could see a corporate offence for failing to prevent bribery. But it is not black and white. 

The new rules, which could put British companies at a disadvantage, might drive brands away if offering their clients the hospitality passes that come with sponsorship deals is risky. 

Bribery is defined as giving someone a financial or other advantage to encourage them to perform improperly. This could cover seeking to influence a decision-maker by giving extra benefit to them, rather than by what can legitimately be offered as part of a tender process. 

All organisations need to consider this Act and be ready to prove they have “adequate procedures” in place to prevent people associated with it from committing bribery. What counts as “adequate” will depend on the bribery risks that the organisation faces, and the nature, size and complexity of the organisation. 

Stick to these six guidelines to stay safe:

·    Keep procedures proportionate to the bribery risk

·    Get top-level management commitment to best practice

·    Undertake a risk assessment to determine the extent of potential risks

·    Apply due diligence processes

·    Communicate your anti-bribery policies to staff

·    Be ready to monitor, review and adapt your procedures

Andy Rea