PR faces corporate hospitality review

PR professionals may find it harder to offer and accept corporate hospitality and gifts if proposed laws, allowing prosecution of individuals who appear to have taken or received a bribe, are accepted.

PR professionals may find it harder to offer and accept corporate

hospitality and gifts if proposed laws, allowing prosecution of

individuals who appear to have taken or received a bribe, are

accepted.



Currently prosecutions fail if there is no evidence of a bribe or reward

being offered. The changes, proposed in a report by the Law Commission,

would force companies to be scrupulous and open over motives for

offering corporate hospitality. Changes would mean that circumstantial

evidence be enough to convict.



Chris McDowall, executive director of the PRCA, said that firms would

have to be more careful: ’But let’s use some common sense. It’s all a

question of degree. A gift worth pounds 10 is not the same as a pounds

500 trip to Paris. It’s OK to offer lunch but to offer the cutlery as

well is going too far.’



The report, which is under consideration by the Lord Chancellor,

recommends modernising bribery laws. It suggests that if a

representative of a company offers or accepts corporate hospitality or

gifts with the ’hope’ or ’intention’ of gaining a reward then they are

guilty of an offence.



Law Commissioner Stephen Silber played down the implications for those

in PR who specialise in corporate hospitality. ’We are very keen that

nothing should be done about corporate hospitality which is run

properly,’ he said.



The changes would replace the 1889 to 1916 Prevention of Corruption acts

and the common law offence of bribery with four new offences.



The Law CommissionOs proposed reforms also recommend that corruption

laws for the public and private sectors be brought into line in light of

recent privatisations.



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