Risk managers remain confused over the Act’s definition of what is a bribe in corporate life, says Miller’s D&O specialist


The Bribery Act’s lack of clarity on what is acceptable corporate behaviour is the major concern for UK risk managers, according to broker Miller.

Since the Act came into force last year, businesses have been navigating a grey area of what constitutes a bribe versus day-to-day business activity that includes corporate hospitality.

Miller D&O specialist Richard Watts says: “Directors and officers are still very concerned that they are operating in a changed environment, where the burden is being placed on boards to prove that no wrongdoing has occurred.

“What really concerns them is the lack of clarity around the definition of a bribe – despite the guidance notes which have been issued…And, if an allegation is made, the cost of defending it is also unknown territory – with no cases to use for reference. The closest comparison is probably fraud cases, which may not be very comforting as the costs there can be millions of pounds.”

He added that most companies have nothing to fear if “they can stay on the right side of the law” though the far-reaching, cross border nature of the Act could put pressure on overseas subsidiaries, especially in countries where there are major differences in business practices.

Watts will be hosting a workshop, entitled ‘Fraud, and the Bribery Act – what is your position?’ on Wednesday,13 June from 11.45pm-1pm. Other panelists include: Ben Luddington of Grant Thornton, and Giles Searby of legal firm Hill Dickinson.