Bribery in Europe

Definition of Bribery

Giving or offering any reward to any person holding public office to influence his conduct; or the receipt of such reward. (1) You might be interested in other definitions of Bribery in the Dictionaries.

In the United Kingdom: History

See Prevention of Corruption Act, 1906.

Impact of Bribery on Contracts Under Swiss Civil Law: Defect of Intention (Art 23ff OR)

Note: for more information, see the entry about corruption on commercial contracts in Switzerland.

Scope of Application

If the bribed contract is not concluded by the bribe-taker in the name of the principal but by the latter directly or another agent of the latter who was, however, not bribed, then the rules regarding defect of intention in Art 23ff OR play a role in respect of the question of whether a legally effective contract has come about between the principal and the third party despite bribery.

The rules on defect of intention in Art 23ff OR also apply as an “expression of general legal principles” analogously and in a subsidiary manner to public law contracts.

Legal Elements of Intentional Deception and Mistake as to the Basis of the Contract

The offences included under Art 23ff OR are: mistake of expression (Erklärungsirrtum), mistake as to the basis of the contract (Grundlagenirrtum), intentional deception (absichtliche Täuschung), and duress (Furchterregung). In the context of bribery it is intentional deception (Art 28 OR) and mistake as to the basis of the contract (Art 24 para 1 no 4 OR) that are in the foreground.

Intentional Deception

According to Art 28 para 1 OR, the contract is not binding on the party who was induced by intentional deception on the part of the other party to conclude the contract even if the mistake prompted was not fundamental. Para 2 provides that the intentional deception practiced by a third party only hinders the contract from being binding upon the party deceived if the other party (ie the contract partner of the party deceived) knew of the deception at the time of the contract being closed or should have known of such.

Source: Bonell M., Meyer O. (eds) The Impact of Corruption on International Commercial Contracts. Ius Comparatum – Global Studies in Comparative Law, vol 11. Springer, 2015

Bribery in other legal encyclopedias

If you search for an entry, then decide you want to see what another legal encyclopedia says about it, you may find your entry in this section.

Link Description
Bribery Bribery in the International Legal Encyclopedia.
Bribery Bribery in the American Legal Encyclopedia.
Bribery Bribery in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia.
Bribery Bribery in the UK Legal Encyclopedia.
Bribery Bribery in the Australian Legal Encyclopedia.


1.Definition of Bribery is from A Concise Law Dictionary (1927).

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