Christmas in Madrid, Spain

Making or Accepting Presents in the Context of Business Relationships

By Jordi Pallarès, Grup Vilar Riba

Making or accepting presents in the context of commercial relationships has traditionally been a culturally accepted practice in Spain. Inviting potential clients to dine out, or inviting them to watch a football match, or sending them a bottle of wine at Christmas, are practices in which companies have invested part of their budgets.

However, pursuant to a 2010 amendment of the Criminal Code, these practices have become, under certain circumstances, a criminal offence.

Specifically, making or accepting a present or benefit, of any kind, as a compensation to unduly benefit a third party in relation to a commercial transaction, is prohibited.

The present or benefit must be of suffcient value as to be able to influence the commercial decisions of the person that receives it. Therefore, no criminal offence is committed if

  1. the present is not made in the context of a commercial relationship;
  2. it has not a relevant value (e.g. a pen or a sticker with the name of the company);or
  3. it is socially considered a courtesy practice (e.g. inviting a client to lunch, or sending the client a bottle of wine for Christmas).

We would recommend companies doing business in Spain to stick to the following guidelines to be always on the safe side:

  1. Never make/accept monetary presents (do not confuse this with commercial discounts or sales discounts [rappels] which are legitimate and legal).
  2. Never request/offer a commercial compensation for the presents made/received.
  3. Establish an internal policy concerning the making/acceptance of presents and make it available to all potentially affected employees.

The policy should establish whether they can offer/accept presents and, if relevant, the procedure to do so, as well as the kind of presents and up to what value can be made/accepted.

Jordi Pallarès

Jordi Pallarès

GGI member firm
Grup Vilar Riba
Advisory, Auditing & Accounting, Corporate Finance, Fiduciary and Estate Planning, Law Firm Services, Tax
Barcelona, Puigcerdà, Vic, Spain
T: +34 93 883 32 12
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Grup Vilar Riba is a multidisciplinary firm that provides legal services, tax and accounting services, auditing services, and commercial consultancy services. The firm has over 130 employees, distributed in three offices in Spain: Barcelona, Vic, and Puigcerdà.

Jordi Pallarès is a partner of Grup Vilar Riba, and head of the firm’s litigation and criminal law departments, as well as the private international law department. He has broad professional experience. He has acted as an arbitrator and is also officially qualified as a mediator and bankruptcy receiver.

Published: Litigation & Dispute Resolution Newsletter, No. 11, Autumn 2019 l Photo: The Photographer -

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