Going Dutch in Business?

I was not far from Holland at the weekend. Just round the corner so to speak in Denmark (and Sweden).

And on Friday last week in the UK we looked as though we are going Dutch. For we now have tough new anti-competition laws in force – courtesy of the brutally and no-nonsense named “Bribery Act”. Once again business gets burdened with yet another layer of hastily introduced legislation. Even the RICS, my professional body, are a little lost. The head of Global Regulatory Standards and Ethics suggested in Property Week last week that, “the lack of certainty is making it difficult for firms to prepare”.

I’m not against cutting down on ‘bribery‘. No right minded person is. But some of the things that might be caught are a little concerning; as it really is most things that you might pay for? Lunch, tickets to Wimbledon, a Maserati for a favoured client etc.

Apparently, all we have to do is to do the “Daily Mail” test. If it were to appear in the Daily Mail – would we be happy? I have to say, that is scientific. We need to judge legislation by what the Daily Mail reader would think?

My firm, like most others, do corporate entertainment. We don’t see it is ‘bribery’ – but does this need to change? (Un)helpfully the Ministry of Justice have said that they don’t want corporate hospitality to stop – but they do want it to be ‘proportionate’. What does that mean? If a client pays us £1,000 for a job – we do McDonalds, but if the same client pays us £5,000 we can do Harts?

It seems to me that, once again, business just gets burdened with more legislation – making it harder to concentrate on earning a living. Bribery, money laundering, Fraud, insider dealing – the rule book grows by the month? Soon we will need more members of staff checking all these rules than members of staff doing property consultancy?

PS The Masserati is a joke Mr MOJ.

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