The Olympics and the Bribery Act

Many of the best seats for this summer’s Olympics remain unsold as companies fear breaching the Bribery Act.

According to reports, thousands of tickets and premium hospitality packages are still to be sold. Perhaps, in straightened economic times, this is not so surprising, with some packages costing as much as £6,500.  It is thought, however, that the Bribery Act is a contributory factor to slow sales.

The Bribery Act 2010, described by the Serious Fraud Office as “the toughest bribery legislation in the world” came into force in July 2011, introducing far-reaching changes to UK anti-corruption laws and criminal sanctions including fines, imprisonment and disqualification as a director.

Despite fears that corporate hospitality would be outlawed by the Act, the Justice Minister confirmed last year that, provided any such corporate hospitality served a legitimate business interest and was not disproportionate, it would not be caught by the Act.

What is, and what is not, “disproportionate” remains unclear. What remains clear, however, is that any company thinking of inviting guests to the Olympics should have policies and procedures in place to ensure that it does not fall foul of the Act.

If you are in any doubt as to how the Bribery Act may affect your business, please do not hesitate to contact the experts in our commercial department – .