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Bribery Act

Hospitality Finder can confirm that long awaited clarification on The Bribery Act has finally been released, in which the Government has stated it will NOT outlaw corporate hospitality.

The new rules will be warmly received in the corporate world as guidance states that The Act should not be used to prevent companies from entertaining customers, dispelling the myth that corporate guests in breach of The Act may have been at risk of prosecution for accepting corporate hospitality.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke announced that “Bona fide hospitality, promotion or other business expenditure which seeks to improve the image of a commercial organisation, better present products and services, or establish cordial relations, is recognised as an established and important part of doing business and it is not the intention of the Act to criminalise such behaviour,” said the guidance.

“The guidance makes clear that no one is going to try to stop businesses getting to know their clients by taking them to events like Wimbledon, Twickenham or the Grand Prix,” said Clarke. “Reasonable hospitality to meet, network and improve relationships with customers is a normal part of doing business.”

The Act brought much-needed clarification to what was widely regarded as an old and confusing set of bribery laws, with businesses worrying that it would make corporate hospitality illegal and placing too big a burden on companies for the behaviour of rogue staff.

The original guidance produced by the previous Government was criticised by the Law Society for being too vague and the current Government delayed the implementation of the Act in order to write this new guidance. The Act will now come into force on 1 July, the Ministry of Justice said.

The guidance clarifies what is meant by adequate procedures, and said that this would be considered in the light of the size and kind of company involved.

“Small organisations are unlikely to need procedures that are as extensive as those of a large multi-national organisation,” said the guidance. “A very small business may be able to rely heavily on periodic oral briefings to communicate its policies while a large one may need to rely on extensive written communication.”

Hospitality Finder is delighted that businesses have finally received guidance on this issue. Hospitality Finder Managing Director Michael Dunderdale reinforced these sentiments, saying “We are very pleased to finally get some clarification on this matter. The new guidance suggests that common sense will prevail which is a welcome olive branch from the Government to all businesses that employ corporate hospitality in an appropriate and proportionate manner.”

The new guidelines place an emphasis on companies employing proportional means to eradicate bribery, which will bring businesses peace of mind under this new common sense approach when considering corporate entertainment for customers or suppliers.

The guidance was welcomed by trade body the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) who “welcome this much-improved final guidance”, said CBI chief policy director Katja Hall.”The Government has listened to concerns that honest companies could have been unwittingly caught out by poorly-drafted legislation and has clarified a number of important areas. These include the extent of liability through the supply chain, joint ventures, due diligence and corporate hospitality.”

If you have any questions on how these new guidelines of The Bribery Act may affect you or your business, feel free to Contact Us and a member of our experienced team will guide you through any queries you may have.