As per the facts of the instant case, G Ltd is a London based company which provides Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the healthcare sector. The company was established before the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2018. The company is planning to expand its business and hence is targeting the customers who have come to attend the Cheltenham Festival in 2020. The hiring of the private suite for offering hospitality to the targeted customers, the allegation ofbribery has arisen. The service included four-course meal along with evening tea and private bar where the customers could bet for the racing and in consequences to the allegation on one of the Board of Directors regarding the taking of bribery, the following presentation has been submitted covering a few points regarding the criminal liability regarding bribery.
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The mentioned point can be justified in accordance with the provisions of the Bribery Act 2010, which was enforced in January 2011 in United Kingdom which prohibits private as well as commercial bribery and also bribery being offered to foreign officials. Further, this Act has also prohibited the acts which promotes bribery and the organisations which fails to prevent such acts within its working. In reference to this Act, the Ministry of Justice, United Kingdom has stated that any bonafide act done regarding hospitality or promotion of the business which has been done with the intention of promoting the business and increasing the brand name of the organisation shall not amount to the act of bribery, rather it shall be considered as an important part of the business and hence, is not prohibited under the Act.
Discussing about the provisions of the Bribery Act 2010, Section 1 provides for the offence of bribing another person where it states that the guilty person shall be liable only in the following cases-
Hence, on analysing the above provision on the material fact of the instant case, it has been observed that the act of G Ltd does not amount to bribery as the hiring of the private box suite in the festival is merely to attract customers and targeted audience and not to induce them for any improper act or function. The act has merely beendone for the reputation of the organisation and to increase the brand name and not for the act of inducement.
The company has planned its expansion by promoting the services it is providing in the healthcare sector. Hence, for the promotion of its new business it has targeted the key consumers of the United Kingdom and has for this purpose, taken initiative of offering hospitality services in the Cheltenham Festival in 2020. In consequence to the spreading pandemic of Covid-19, the business of the company has been affected largely. Thus, the company has adopted business strategies for the promotion of the business post covid-19.
As per the enacted provisions under the Bribery Act 2010, under Section 3, the functions and activities has been termed as relevant functions. The provisions of the said Act also provide that the commission of these activities and functions in irregular manner is only considered as the act of bribery. The provision under Section 3 is as follows:
Under Clause (2), the following activities if done irregularly and improperly are considered as the act of bribery:
But it has also been provided in this provision that the above-mentioned conditions shall not be considered as the act of bribe if-
Hence, it has been clear that the act done by G Ltd has not been done with the intention of inducement as the act done by the company was in good faith where the intention of the company was only to attract key customers for the expansion of its business. Hence, the act of the company is not under the definition of bribe under the said Act.
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As the company G Ltd has faced the allegation of bribery though not proved, yet it has been recommended for the company to take certain steps to avoid such charges and allegations in the future business conduct. The company has to update its anti-bribery policies under which the conducting of such events for the business promotions are not considered as the act of bribery where the sole intention of the company is to promote and expand the business by attracting customers. Further, all the gifts and hospitality services offered by the company should be done for legitimate purposes and should not be unduly lavish. Further, the company should in advance declare the gifts and hospitality services in the company's gift and hospitality register that is this practice should be completely transparent. Moreover, the company G Ltd is also advised to take extra precautions in matters of foreign public officials.
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