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Hospitality exempt from the Bribery Act – so why so scared?

Hospitality exempt from the Bribery Act – so why so scared?

Our World | On 14, Apr 2011

That word ‘perception’ is still rearing its ugly head now and again with regard to operating events; but it has taken on a new meaning over past months – one considerable worry has been about how the 2010 Bribery Act may affect you, your colleagues, clients or staff.  Are you one of those event professionals wary of participating in ‘educational’ events put on by agencies because of ‘perception’? Or has your business forfeited the annual incentive for your staff or clients because of a lack of clarity in this area? If so, worry no more, because at long last the Ministry of Justice has published a definitive guide on what is and what is not deemed as ‘bribery’.  The good news is that Hospitality and Business events are exempt!

Extract taken from the Ministry of Justice Quick Start guide to the Bribery Act 2010:

Can I provide hospitality, promotional or other business expenditure under the Act?
Yes. The Government does not intend that genuine hospitality or similar business expenditure that is reasonable and proportionate be caught by the Act, so you can continue to provide bona fide hospitality, promotional or other business expenditure.
In any case where it was thought the hospitality was really a cover for bribing someone, the authorities would look at such things as the level of hospitality offered, the way in which it was provided and the level of influence the person receiving it had on the business decision in question. But, as a general proposition, hospitality or promotional expenditure which is proportionate and reasonable given the sort of business you do is very unlikely to engage the Act. So you can continue to provide tickets to sporting events, take clients to dinner, offer gifts to clients as a reflection of your good relations, or pay for reasonable travel expenses in order to demonstrate your goods or services to clients if that is reasonable and proportionate for your business.

This advice should reassure any wary event professional out there that bona fide business related events and hospitality are not under scrutiny.  After all, face to face is still most effective method of communication and surely, ‘communicating’ in an inspirational destination or venue has additional motivational benefits to you and your target audience.

Download a copy of the Quick Start Guide here:
http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/docs/bribery-act-2010-quick-start-guide.pdf