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This week’s edition of Corporate highlights includes news of the European Commission’s proposed new rules to give SMEs better access to financing through public markets, the government’s proposal to hold directors of nuisance call companies more personally accountable and the implementation of the GDPR on 25 May 2018 by way of the Data Protection Act 2018.
The European Commission has proposed new rules to give small and medium enterprises (SMEs) better access to financing through public markets as part of the EU’s capital markets union (CMU) agenda. The aim is to provide EU SMEs with easier access to cheaper funding to aid their expansion.
Despite the benefits of stock exchange listings, EU public markets for SMEs can struggle to attract new issuers and the number of SME initial public offerings today has halved compared to 2006-2007. This is why the Commission, as announced in the Mid-Term Review of the CMU Action Plan in June 2017, wants to adapt existing EU rules on access to public markets in the Market Abuse Regulation (MAR), the Prospectus Regulation and the recast Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II). This complements a comprehensive series of measures already adopted by the Commission since the launch of the CMU to improve access to market-based finance for SMEs, for example requirements for SME growth markets which enable smaller companies to get equity capital and debt finance (bonds) which entered into force in January 2018.
The key changes to SME listings rules are as follows:
The proposal for a regulation amending MAR and the Prospectus Regulation will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council. The amendments to the MiFID II delegated act on SME growth markets (Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/565 on SME Growth Markets) have been published for a four-week consultation ending on 21 June 2018, following which they will be scrutinised and sent to the European Parliament and the Council for their scrutiny.
For further information, see News: Capital markets union: broadening access to market-based finance for SMEs.
The government is seeking views on how it can make directors, and those in similar positions including members of partnerships, more personally accountable where their companies unlawfully make unsolicited marketing communications. Proposals under consideration include amending the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, SI 2003/2426 to allow the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to fine directors up to £500,000 for nuisance calls and texts. Currently this type of enforcement is only available against companies rather than individual directors. The ICO’s concern is that this has enabled directors to put companies into liquidation to avoid penalties, only to restart the business under a new name.
Whilst this legislative change option would most commonly affect company directors’ liabilities, it is important to note that the consultation paper also refers to it affecting ‘those in similar positions’ to company directors in corporate bodies and unincorporated associations, as well as also extending to members of partnerships and Scottish partnerships. In relation to an unincorporated body other than a partnership, it would apply to any person who was concerned in the management or control of the body or purports to act in the capacity of a person so concerned.
For further information, see LNB News 30/05/2018 62.
Provisions are made regulating the processing of information relating to individuals, making provisions in connection with the Information Commissioner’s functions under certain regulations relating to information, and making provision for a direct marketing code of practice, as well as for connected purposes.
Provisions are made repealing and replacing the UK’s existing data protection laws to keep them up to date as increasing amounts of personal data are being processed. New standards are set for protecting personal data, in accordance with recent EU data protection laws, giving people more control over use of their data and helping the UK prepare a future outside the EU. The Act came into force on 25 May 2018.
For further information, see News: Data Protection Act 2018.
SI 2018/625: Certain provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 came into force on 25 May 2018 whilst others will come into force on 23 July 2018.
Broadly, section 2 and Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 come into force on 25 May. Sections 123, 125, 126, 127, 188, 189, 190, 191, 192, 193, 194 and 195 come into force on 23 July.
For further information, see News: Data Protection Act 2018 (Commencement No 1 and Transitional and Saving Provisions) Regulations 2018.
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