Monthly commercial law update: Top 5 developments in May

Monthly commercial law update: Top 5 developments in May

Farewell May!

Hello summer (well that's the theory at least).

It was clearly a busy month last month: the General Election and Queen's Speech being the two events of particular note.

So whilst the new government beds in and summer 2015 tries in desperation to get a foothold into the meteorological calendar, why not check out last month's top 5 developments:

Businesses: Queen's speech—what is relevant for commercial lawyers?

The Queen delivered the 64th speech of her reign at the State Opening of Parliament on Wednesday, 27 May.

The speech set out the government's legislative programme for the new parliamentary session.

A number of bills were announced, which are likely to be of interest to commercial lawyers:

  • the Enterprise Bill, if passed, will lead to the creation of a Small Business Conciliation Service to help settle disputes between small and large businesses, especially over late payment practices. It will also extend and simplify the concept of 'primary authority' and aim to reduce red tape
  • the EU Referendum Bill was featured in the speech as anticipated and will set the terms of a new in-out referendum to be held before the end of 2017. For details of the review of the UK/EU balance of competences held between autumn 2012 and autumn 2014 (ie the audit of what the EU does and how it affects the UK), click here, and
  • the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill: the government will look to modernise the law on communications data and 'address ongoing capability gaps that are severely degrading the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to combat terrorism and other serious crime'

Other bills announced in the speech cover a proposed five-year freeze on increases in VAT, income tax and National Insurance contributions, proposals for the granting of further devolved powers to the Scottish Parliament, and the creation of a 'Northern Powerhouse' through elected metro-mayors and continued legislation for high-speed rail links.

It is notable that there was no proposed bill on the controversial abolition of the Human Rights Act 1998; the government intends to launch a consultation before taking further steps.

For more information, see our previous blog post: Queen's Speech 2015: a guide for commercial lawyers.

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