Since the introduction of the Bribery Act 2010 there has been a noticeable change in the culture of giving and accepting gifts. It was not that long ago that professional colleagues might have left in boxes of wine or hampers to thank us for our assistance throughout the year but this has noticeably declined in recent years. Indeed you might even have noticed that it is hard to pay for lunch or even a cup of coffee when having business meetings. Is this trend as a result of being over cautious following the introduction of this legislation? It is important to analyse what bribery is. The Minister of Justice at the time, Ken Clarke, described it as “giving someone a financial or other advantage to encourage that person to perform their functions or activities improperly or to reward that person for having already done so.” The significant element required to complete the offence of bribery is bringing about improper performance by another person. Buying or at least offering to buy clients or contacts a cup of coffee or lunch and accepting same should not be feared or discouraged. It is perhaps for the reason that so many of these gestures are for legitimate reasons that the legislation has not been often used in successful prosecutions.
Michael May has experience in dealing with offences under the Bribery Act and other aspects of White Collar Crime.