The Guide Live morning session: The Bribery Act

The Guide Live at Proud2 kicked-off with a talk on the impending Bribery Act as 80 delegates poured into The O2 for a day of networking and seminars.

The Guide Live morning session: The Bribery Act
The Guide Live morning session: The Bribery Act

Law firm Charles Russell head of competition and regulation Paul Stone told the audience that despite government guidance there is still some uncertainty over the Act, set to come into force in July.

"The difficulty is finding where the line in terms of the regulation and what constitutes being the wrong side of it," said Stone.

"The wrong side of the line would be inviting a customer to an event, but only doing so if they agree sign a contract or using the event to influence a business decision in your favour. Long-standing relationships, though, are fine."

Stone said there was a grey area, because what one company would consider lavish another might consider run-of-the-mill hospitality.

"Getting the tone right in terms of your business is the important thing," said Stone.

Fuse head of events Ros Robinson also spoke on the panel and suggested the a fall in corporate hospitality spending at some companies is inevitable.

"Many larger firms have had anti-corruption and bribery regulations in place for some time," said Robinson. "But there will be more scrutiny into expenditure. Budgets aren’t what they were any more anyway, but that focus on watching expenditure is likely to be increased."

The Bribery Act carries with it some draconian sentences, including unlimited fines for companies and up to ten years in prison for individuals.

"The upside is that it is easy to make allegations now if you feel a company has crossed the line," said Stone. "The downside of that is if you are wrongly accused your reputation may take a hit as a result."

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