The gun in my trembling hands felt cold and threatening. Not having indulged in country pursuits or auditioned for a Guy Ritchie movie it was a totally unfamiliar sensation. In short I was terrified.
No this is not the first line of a bad novel about a staid accountant turned underworld hitman. It is in fact the story of my recent corporate day out at the home of British shooting, Bisley in Surrey. Kindly invited by Menzies accountants, I, along with 40 or so other business people spent a morning attempting to shoot down clay pigeons propelled into the air at varying speeds and directions. Once the initial fears were overcome a great deal of fun was had by all and some useful connections made.
Hang on. Corporate entertaining? Hasn’t that just been outlawed by this new Bribery Act? Thanks to an excellent and imaginative presentation by Claus Anderson ,a partner at Royds LLP solicitors, which used actors to play out various scenarios which may or may not have fallen foul of the act, I am pleased to confirm that this is not the case. As long as it is proportionate and reasonable, activities such as jollies to Wimbledon, Lords and the Open, remain available to those lucky enough to be invited.
Sadly real bribery remains a serious business, if you’ll forgive the comparison. According to a recent article in Management Today a trillion dollars a year is paid out in bribes. The business and social impact of bribery on poorer countries is significant and is a cause of real economic deprivation and hardship.
Much of the awareness campaign as regards the Bribery Act has focussed on the compliance aspect and how you can protect yourself and your business. This is fine, but it should not be forgotten that this is as much an ethical and moral issue as a legal one.
Critics of the act have said that bribery is a way of life in some countries and that it is often impossible to get essential tasks done without some sort of facilitation payment. British business will be a loser as a result of the new act. That may be true in the short term but surely the long term winner will be the global economy. The only way that we will be able to change “the way business has always been done” is to stop doing it that way.
The one concern that I do have is that it is invariably the little guys that will get caught while bigger organisations will find more subtle ways to achieve their objectives.
Meanwhile I am proud to say that my honesty and integrity remain intact. As do most of the clay pigeons that I was shooting at unfortunately…