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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10264
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I recently left the employ of a small firm after a year or

Customer Question

I recently left the employ of a small firm after a year or so. About a week later they called me and asked if I would help them find a supplier for some parts they needed, which I agreed I would do unpaid.
I called a few firms in my area and explained the job. I also explained very clearly that I don't work for the firm anymore and would have no part in the purchasing process - I asked them all to send quotes direct to my old firm directly and only copy me in so that I knew they had responded.
One of these firms I asked if they would pay me a sales referral fee or commission IF they won the work (as they are in a totally different industry and would never have had the lead without my call). I explained that if they won the work, I would trust them to let me know, and that once it had been delivered and paid for, I would invoice them for the service of providing an introduction.
Have I acted illegally?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Is your former employer aware of the arrangement?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No - I have nothing to do with them any more
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in court today so will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Many thanks for your patience. From what you have described I cannot see that you have done anything illegally. You may have told the old employer that you would do the work unpaid but you do not have to justify to them how you would do that and if in reality you were going to get any payment for the work you did. The agreement to work unpaid was between you and them, not between you and other companies. So whilst you cannot go back to the employer and say that they owe you anything for what you did, it does not stop you from having separate arrangements with any of the suppliers. The only other legal consideration is that this fee would be classified as income and obviously would need to be taxed appropriately, based on what your overall income is. I do not give tax advice but in summary it should be treated as part of your annual income and declared so that any potentially due tax is paid on it. Apart from that, it is really up to you as to what arrangements and payments you have with any suppliers, even if you do not tell the employer about these.

I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. If this has answered your question please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars from the top of the page. I spend a lot of time and effort answering individual queries and I am not credited for my time until you leave your rating. If you still need further help please get back to me on here and I will assist as best as I can. Many thanks.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, do you need any further assistance or are you happy with the above response? Look forward to hearing from you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Obviously its not about whether I was being paid by my ex employer or not..
The question is, by asking for a referral fee from a potential supplier, was I in effect asking for a bribe.
As I see it, if I was still working for my ex employer I would have been asking for a bribe... so the real question is, how far removed from my ex employer do I need to be so that I am sure it is not a bribe, and is just a referral fee.
And finally, at which point if it were seen as me asking for a bribe, would I actually have committed a crime? When I ask, or when the money gets paid?Facts.
Up until a week before the incident, I was working as a sub contractor for ***Ltd
At the time of the alleged incident, I was no longer working for ***Ltd but knew they needed a particular material supplied to them - indeed informally, a manager from ***Ltd asked me to help find a few potential suppliers
So I called a few companies and told them about the project ***Ltd needed help withOne of these companies, -----Ltd said they might be able to help and I supplied the details. In that conversation I said to the contact at -----Ltd, if you get the job, I'd like you to pay me a commission of £500. I am not an employee of ***Ltd any more and you need to send your quote to ....... email address as he is looking after the job.
If you get the job, I'll invoice you for £500 for services, as a commission so make sure you have covered that cost in your quote. If you don't get the job, forget the whole thing...That's what happened.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

I have read the exchange between my colleague and you and based upon the fact you have given and your later summary, I am also still of the opinion that you have not done anything wrong.

You are not employed by the company and hence, you were not under a duty to act in its best interest which would be the situation if you had been employed by them all were paid to do this job.

There is nothing in what you have said which would concern me with regard to any allegations of illegality. you are simply being paid commission for an introduction.

It may be different if you had asked them to put 500 quid on top for you but even then, I still don’t think there is a criminal issue.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which experts get paid.

We can still exchange emails.

Best wishes.