New ICC guidelines on corporate gifts and hospitality

30 Jun 2014
The International Chamber of Commerce has issued new guidelines on corporate gifts and hospitality. The guidance is based on the most recent international, regional and national rules (including the UK Bribery Act 2010) as well as commercial best practice, taking into account that different jurisdictions have their own rules, regulations and enforcement methods.

In summary, the ICC recommends all businesses to establish procedures (which should be implemented and communicated across the organisation) to ensure any gifts and hospitality are:

  • reasonable, proportionate and limited to bona fide business-related expenditure;
  • made transparently;
  • not offered or received too frequently or at an inappropriate time;
  • recorded fairly and accurately in the company's records; and
  • appropriate given the culture and standard of living in the relevant country.

The guidelines also state that no gifts or hospitality should be made in the form of cash or cash equivalent (e.g. vouchers or free-services for the business).

The UK Bribery Act 2010 created a good deal of concern and confusion regarding what may or may not fall foul of the legislation and many companies were, perhaps justifiably, concerned about how corporate hospitality would be treated. The ICC guidelines therefore offer some useful parameters and guidance for companies, through which there runs a theme of reasonableness and proportionality. Policies on gifts and corporate hospitality should form part of the bank of documents which govern all well run companies, so perhaps now would be a good time to ensure those policies are up to date and in line with the latest guidance and thinking.

View the full guidance.