Saints or Devils

Will the Bribery Act 2010 affect corporate hospitality?

As we are about to embark upon a new season with the Saints, should businesses be concerned about the effect of the Bribery Act 2010 ("the Act") upon corporate hospitality? The Act was due to come into force in April 2010 well before India's tour of England but it was delayed due to concerns raised during the consultation process. The Act actually came into force on 1 July 2010.

One of the main concerns was how corporate hospitality would be dealt with and what would be the impact upon businesses. The guidance stipulates that the Act is not intended to criminalise bona fide hospitality designed to improve a business' image, make others aware of its products and services or assist in the development of relationships which are an integral part of doing business. What you obviously cannot do is use corporate hospitality as a lever to secure work for your business.

Having said the above, corporate hospitality still must be reasonable and proportionate to the size and nature of the business. However, that does not preclude small owner managed businesses taking their customers to the Saints!

A business must have adequate procedures in place to prevent itself falling foul of the corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery. These procedures are based upon six principles:-

  1. Proportionate Procedures

The higher the risk of bribery the greater the steps that must be taken to mitigate its risk. The procedures need to be proportionate to the bribery risk faced by the business given its size, geographical area, business model and its market sector.

  1. Senior Management Commitment

Senior management must be involved in the prevention of bribery. In large organisations this may mean the board setting and reviewing policies and in the smaller organisations, the proprietor.

  1. Risk Assessment

Senior management should be involved in the process of regularly identifying areas of the business, transactions, and indeed individuals who are at the greatest risk. A record should be kept of these results.

  1. Due Diligence

There is a continuing obligation to review the processes and who business is done with.

  1. Communication

There must be clear anti-bribery policies and procedures disseminated to members and employees of the business and a culture enabling these people to raise concerns about bribery should be engendered.

  1. Monitoring and Review

Bribery policies need to be reviewed as a business develops.

In conclusion I hope I have not spoilt your season already, or caused you to have sleepless nights about who you gave your test match tickets to! Like with all these procedures an element of common sense needs to be applied.