Gifts, benefits and hospitality

On  1 July 2011 the Bribery Act was enacted to collate all relevant legislation into one act and to bring UK law into line with other countries.  This has greatly influenced sporting federations on how they operate in relation to corporate hospitality, gifts and other benefits.  Previous legilsation dated back to 1889.

The Bribery Act will:

  • Introduce a corporate offence for failure to prevent bribery by persons working on behalf of a business. A business can avoid conviction if it can show that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.
  • Make it a criminal offence to give, promise or offer a bribe and to request, agree to receive or accept a bribe either at home or abroad. The measures also cover bribery of a foreign public official.
  • Increase the maximum penalty for bribery from 7 to 10 years imprisonment, with an unlimited fine.

An organisation could be liable and held accountable if a senior person in the organisation (e.g a managing director) commits a bribery offence.

An organisation could also be liable where someone performs a service for the organisation (it could be an employee or an agent) by paying a bribe to gain business, keep business or gain a business advantage for your organisation.

The Act will not prohibit the use of hospitality but where hospitality is a cover for bribery organisations will be liable.

However, sports organisations will still be able to provide hospitality as part of sponsorship agreements as long as it’s provided 'in good faith' and is reasonable and proportionate.

It will also still be possible for organisations to provide tickets to sport events, take clients to dinner, offer gifts to clients to reflect good relationships or pay for reasonable travel expenses as long as the benefits offered are reasonable and proportionate.

Example from ASA of a corporate gifts policy
Bribery action plan example from Bowls England.
Example of a corporate hospitality policy from Bowls England.

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