So the new Bribery Act comes into play in July this year. While it is understandable in terms of what it is trying to achieve it is probably going to be very difficult for sensible employers to draw a line between what is a ‘bribe’ and what is a legitimate business activity.
An example, this weekend we took a table at the Scottish Cup Final and invited guests from our top 10 clients. Is this bribery or an opportunity to say thanks for the business and further establish those strong relationships on which most businesses thrive? Now I know that many commentators are saying that Corporate Hospitality will not be considered bribery, but until we see some case law no-one really knows what will happen.
There is also a real problem internationally for many British firms. For example, the manufacturing and engineering sector export to many different countries, these countries have different customs from the UK and Europe and in some of these locations what would be considered unlawful in the UK is a common business practice. So what this Act does is promote anti-competition globally for UK business because many of our international competitors won’t be tied down by this Act. While I in no way condone unlawful behaviour, perhaps its time we stopped taking the higher ground in these situations, and applied a bit of common sense.
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