Compliance with the Bribery Act 2010: How To Win Contracts And (Not) Influence People

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You are a General Partner and intend to organize a golfing weekend for prospective business associates at a 5 star hotel. The business associates are important foreign government officials about to make a crucial decision on the provision of investment.

How will the Bribery Act 2010 (the “Act”), which is due to come into force later this year, impact upon how you conduct business?

The recent furore surrounding the Act has centred on corporate hospitality. Broadly, the Act will prohibit the giving of advantages (in the public official and commercial context) in order to persuade recipients to act improperly. The Act will also prohibit the giving of advantages to influence foreign public officials to retain or obtain business. The latter offence is likely to lead to difficulties as it clearly goes to the heart of corporate hospitality. It would not be inconceivable for a jury to conclude in the example cited above that the golfing event was intended to influence the foreign public officials in order to gain business. The message from the government is that proportionate and reasonable expenditure will not lead to prosecution. However, what is proportionate and reasonable expenditure? What might be regarded as “overly lavish” depends upon the nature of what is being offered and to whom. Until the Attorney General’s guidance on the Act is published, businesses have to re-examine their approach to corporate hospitality.

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