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
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