Society as a whole is rightly taking an increasingly dim view about bribery both here and overseas, as witnessed by the recent Bribery Act. The Supreme Court has now decided that the full armory of legal remedies should be available for those who have suffered from bribery. In the case of FHR European Ventures v Cedar Capital Partners, the Supreme Court decided that a principal, whose agent has accepted a bribe or secret commission from the other party to the transaction, should have what is called a “proprietary remedy” against the agent. This means that if, for example, the agent has used the bribe to buy a property then the principal will have a claim on the property itself. Another example would be if the agent has transferred the bribe to another party who knows of the wrongdoing, then the principal could claim against that third party.
Agency Law intrudes into almost every area of commercial life and not just those businesses with an agent in the title, such as estate agents or travel agents, it also has significant implications for companies involved in sport, the media, banking, insurance and shipping.