When can a commission be a bribe?
Produced in partnership with Richard Furlong of Carmelite Chambers
When can a commission be a bribe?

The following Corporate Crime guidance note Produced in partnership with Richard Furlong of Carmelite Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • When can a commission be a bribe?
  • How a commission might become a bribe
  • Identifying where a commission is a bribe
  • Examples

All commissions constitute the giving of a financial advantage, although they will not necessarily be bribes.

Commissions may be facilitation payments, where the commission is paid for the performance (or faster performance) of an existing duty (see Practice Note: Facilitation payments under the Bribery Act 2010).

If a commission is a facilitation payment, it will be unlawful. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has said it will prosecute where the Code for Crown Prosecutors, Full Code Test is met; that is to say there is a realistic prospect of conviction on the evidence, and it is in the public interest to do so.

How a commission might become a bribe

There are a number of potentially significant areas of risk for commission payments. Examples include:

The art market

In the art market, a common practice has been the payment of commission to intermediaries owing a duty of trust to an art collector in return for the opportunity to deal with or add to the collection. Such commissions have typically been paid without the knowledge or consent of the art collector. The payment of such commissions (even where the intermediary is based outside the UK) would be unlawful under the Bribery Act 2010 (BA 2010) if a tribunal found the intention was to ob