November 2022, Virtual
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
The Bribery Act could outlaw traditional hospitality, warns Paul Hussey, BSI's director of business development - meetings and events.
The next time you accept a complimentary night in a hotel – or even a lunch invitation from a prospective supplier, you could find yourself facing up to 10 years in jail and an unlimited fine - or both. From April 1st, the UK’s new Bribery Act makes it illegal to give, accept or (for corporates) allow “financial or other benefits”. The onus will be on companies to prove that no corrupt practices have taken place. The Act bans “excessive corporate entertainment”. It permits hospitality to establish “cordial relations” but not hospitality to win business. Accepting a day out at the races, the traditional Christmas box of chocolates or even the humble familiarisation trip will – theoretically - be illegal. All UK businesses are required to demonstrate compliance with the Act, and educate their employees accordingly. They will have to create policies for, and keep records of the hospitality their staff receive and hand out. Pragmatism dictates that the Bribery Act is likely to have a similar affect on British business as 2007’s Corporate Manslaughter Act - lots of discussion but very few convictions because prosecutions will only be in the public interest if the hospitality is unreasonable or excessive. American-owned corporates are well versed in Sarbanes Oxley and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Many already have policies of not allowing their employees to accept any gifts. The public sector is also likely to adopt – at least initially – a zero tolerance stand, whilst delegates attending free educational events, or invited to take part in hosted buyer programmes will circumvent the Act by paying a nominal fee. It’s all manna from heaven for company lawyers and more work for compliance departments. The problem is a not a new one for the corporate travel sector either. As any industry professional will tell you, one size doesn’t fit all. BSI will be taking a close look at the impact of The Bribery Act in its next IndustryEye™ white paper. Including contributions from buyers, suppliers and legal expects, Risky Business will be written by Mark Harris, Travel Intelligence Network and will be available this spring. To register your interest, please email [email protected].