Concerts, dinners and sports events are all ok under new Bribery Act

Government guidance clears up hospitality confusion

Small firms taking clients to pop concerts, dinners or sporting events will not be prosecuted for bribery under new anti-corruption rules, the government has confirmed.

The coalition published long-awaited guidance on the controversial Bribery Act today, and the directives made clear that corporate hospitality remains perfectly legitimate.

When the act passed parliament last April, many entrepreneurs expressed concern that a host of corporate hospitality practices, hitherto considered perfectly legitimate, would be outlawed – criminalising hundreds of small firms at a stroke.

But the government has moved to allay these fears with today’s guidance.

Justice secretary Ken Clarke said that “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,” and added that “reasonable hospitality to meet, network and improve relationships with customers is a normal part of business.”

The guidance also made clear that entrepreneurs needn’t put their anti-bribery policies in writing – as long as they relate their anti-bribery policies to their employees orally, they will meet the new requirements.

“Small organisations are unlikely to need procedures that are as extensive as those of a large multi-national organisation,” the guidance said. “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.”

The Bribery Act was originally supposed to come into force next month, but the delay caused in publishing guidance has pushed back the implementation date. It will now be formally implemented on July 1.

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