Q&As

Should I set de minimis values in my corporate hospitality and gifts policies?

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Produced in partnership with Adrian Maxwell of St John's Chambers
Published on LexisPSL on 14/02/2014

The following Practice Compliance Q&A produced in partnership with Adrian Maxwell of St John's Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Should I set de minimis values in my corporate hospitality and gifts policies?
  • Failing to prevent bribery
  • The position of the Serious Fraud Office
  • Adequate procedures
  • What are adequate procedures?
  • How can I achieve adequate procedures?
  • Facilitation payments and corporate hospitality
  • Facilitation payments
  • Corporate hospitality
  • The last word
  • More...

De minimis non curat lex means ‘the law cares not for small things’. But the Bribery Act 2010 (BA 2010) demonstrates that this may not be true.

BA 2010 came into force on 1 July 2011. It consolidated and replaced outdated bribery and corruption laws. It was a response to criticisms of the UK regime from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). BA 2010 reflects the government’s zero tolerance to bribery in UK trade. It’s short (just 20 sections and 2 schedules), but it creates widely drawn criminal offences and applies to individuals and corporations in both the private and public sectors.

Adrian Maxwell, leading financial crime barrister, considers the key challenges and concerns for firms and sets out what firms might expect from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Failing to prevent bribery

There is a strict liability corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery. A statutory defence may be available where a defendant company can show it has in place ‘adequate procedures designed to prevent (bribery)’.

Adequate procedures (AP) are not defined. However, the Secretary of State is required to issue guidance about procedures corporations can adopt to prevent bribery.

BA 2010 gives a statutory defence that pivots on the existence of AP. These are not defined in BA 2010 so we must look to the guidance from the Secretary of State and to the attitude

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