Employment Law experts
5th December 2016

I’ve always given Christmas presents to my clients and suppliers, is this still ok or will I be in violation of the Bribery Act?

They say this time of year is a time for giving, and it’s not uncommon for companies to show their appreciation to their clients and suppliers with bottles of whiskey or such like and boxes of chocolates. Some clients and suppliers even reciprocate with their own festive gestures of goodwill.

However, in 2011 the Bribery Act came into force covering all companies that carry out business in the UK. The Bribery Act made it illegal to offer or accept a bribe and makes companies liable if they fail to prevent bribery from being committed in connection with their business. It also includes a third offence of bribing a foreign official. Individuals found guilty of an offence under the Bribery Act can face prison terms of up to 10 years so it’s not something to be sniffed at.

Does your Christmas gift fall foul of the Bribery Act? Probably not

The Act makes it an offence to offer, promise or give a financial advantage to another person for the improper performance of a relevant function. This means that if you offered higher value gifts to one client in order to facilitate your company winning their next tender then it would be an offence. Or if your supplier was particularly generous one year to ensure you kept your business with them, ignoring the quotes from any other supplier that could be an offence. However, a little festive treat given purely to show appreciation will not be stolen by the Bribery Grinch.


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