Phew, corporate hospitality is still OK!

Bribery is defined by the Act as anything that offers a financial incentive to someone with the intention of that person doing something improper in return. Fear was that businesses could inadvertently fall foul of the Act when extending hospitality to clients.

The Act, one of the last of the previous Labour government, lists four offences that constitute bribery:

  • Paying bribes
  • Receiving bribes
  • Bribing a foreign official
  • Failing to prevent bribery

However, it was today confirmed: "Bona fide hospitality and promotional, or other business expenditure which seeks to improve the image of a commercial organisation, better to 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.

"The government does not intend for the Act to prohibit reasonable and proportionate hospitality and promotional or other similar business expenditure intended for these purposes."

In other words, the following is OK:

  • Paying travel and hotel expenses for your clients
  • Taking your client out for a meal
  • Tickets to a sports event

Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, said: "I have listened carefully to business representatives to ensure the Bribery Act is implemented fully and in a workable, commonsense way - this is particularly important for small firms that have limited resources."

Phew. Time to celebrate by taking your main client (or a lowly journo, hint, hint) out on the town? You know you want to!

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