Latest Legal and Regulatory news update - 16th July

Latest Legal and Regulatory news update - 16th July

 

In this issue: 

In-house

Risk & Compliance

Commercial

Corporate

Financial services

Information Law & TMT

Employment

LexTalk®In-house: a Lexis®PSL community

 


 

In-house

Quick Fix

Short on time but need to know the latest in-house commercial news? It's all here for you, from coronavirus business interruption insurance to easyJet’s cyberattack, flexible furlough and ethnicity pay gap. Watch our Commercial Bulletin or read the blog which has direct links to relevant materials in Lexis®PSL.


Brexit bulletin

With the UK and EU continuing to report limited progress in negotiations, the government has launched a fresh public information campaign aiming to prepare the public and businesses for the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020—‘Check, Change, Go’. The campaign aims to set out actions to ensure individuals and businesses are prepared when the transitional arrangements under the Withdrawal Agreement come to an end and new arrangements come into effect on 1 January 2021. The campaign directs businesses, organisations and individuals to the government's new checker tool, which identifies necessary next steps they need to take. See: LNB News 13/07/2020 59.


Risk & Compliance

Supply chain risks

Corporate Crime analysis: The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) and other law enforcement agencies are considering whether to take action in respect of allegations of modern slavery and unsuitable working conditions in textile factories in Leicester, England during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. See: Spotlight on UK supply chains as UK authorities investigate lockdown working conditions.

See also Practice Note: Supply chain risk management guide and Precedent: Supply chain risk assessment and register.


Financial crime

Corporate Crime analysis: John Binns, partner at BCL Solicitors LLP and member of the Lexis®PSL Corporate Crime Consulting Editorial Board, discusses the new Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020, popularly referred to as ‘Magnitsky’ sanctions, and offers advice on the practical steps businesses and lawyers can take to comply with the sanctions. See News Analysis: Global human rights sanctions.

HMRC has announced the outcome of its technical consultation on the Fifth Money Laundering Directive and Trust Registration Service and published a summary of all responses received. The Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/628 have now been laid for consideration by the European Statutory Instruments Committee in the House of Commons and the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee in the House of Lords. See: LNB News 15/07/2020 10.

Eight Overseas Territories are to introduce publicly accessible registers detailing who owns the companies in their territory. The government expects that beneficial ownership information on businesses registered in the Overseas Territories will be accessible to the public by 2023. See: LNB News 15/07/2020 99.

Law 360, London: The European Parliament has backed measures that would give the European Central Bank more powers and create an improved asset-freezing regime in the EU’s fight against the flow of dirty money. See News Analysis: EU Parliament endorses new anti-money laundering plans.


Commercial

Coronavirus

HMRC has published new guidance to reflect the recently announced temporary reduction in VAT for supplies relating to hospitality, holiday accommodation and certain attractions. See: LNB News 10/07/2020 64.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced that small firms across the UK will now be able to benefit from free advice from ‘thousands of expert professionals and business services advisers’. See: LNB News 10/07/2020 19.


Brexit

The government has announced a new Border Operating Model, setting out plans for customs controls and regulations to be phased in for the movement of goods between Great Britain and the EU from 1 January 2021. Separate arrangements are to be put in place between Northern Ireland and the EU in accordance with the Northern Ireland Protocol, with guidance promised in the coming weeks. See: LNB News 13/07/2020 98.

HMRC has published new guidance on customs declarations to help stakeholders prepare for the end of the transition period. The guidance includes updates on declarations for imports from the EU to Great Britain between 1 January and 31 June 2021. Further new and updated guidance for importers and exporters has also been published.​ See: LNB News 10/07/2020 46.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has published updated guidance on labelling and marketing standards to help stakeholders prepare for the end of the transition period. See: LNB News 10/07/2020 95.


Contracts

The UK recently requested to join the Lugano Convention 2007 (Lugano Convention), which is the UK’s preferred regime for governing questions of jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments with EU countries post-Brexit. These rules will be critically important for all parties when they consider which jurisdiction clauses to include in their contracts. See News Analysis: An attractive regime for governing jurisdiction post-Brexit.

The Cabinet Office and the Government Legal Department have issued new versions of the government Model Services Contract (MSC). Published on 14 July 2020, the updated documents include amendments to the definition and interpretation provisions to remove ‘antiquated terminology’, as well as new, updated and expanded provisions on security, transparency, payment, force majeure, environmental requirements, staff transfer, pensions, exit management and execution. It also includes new clauses to bring the MSC into line with Procurement Policy Note 04/19 on payment approaches in the procurement of major public contracts, which came into effect on 1 September 2019. See: LNB News 15/07/2020 39.

The judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) (First Chamber) in the case of NG and OH v SC Banca Transilvania SA (Case C-81/19) has been published. The judgment concerns the interpretation of the Unfair Contract Terms Directive (Directive 93/13/EEC) on unfair terms in consumer contracts. See: LNB News 14/07/2020 3.

 

Competition

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its 2019–2020 Annual Report, setting out the CMA’s performance, achievements and accounts from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020. In that period, the CMA issued seven Competition Act 1998 decisions, imposing fines totalling £56m and disqualifying ten company directors. It also secured consumer protection commitments from 29 companies in four investigations and reviewed 62 mergers. Key sectors the CMA focused on included stopping care home residents from paying unfair fees, investigating the funeral sector, proposing reforms to Scottish legal services and ensuring co-operation between suppliers to maintain the supply of goods and services during the coronavirus pandemic. See: LNB News 15/07/2020 8.


E-commerce

Regulation (EU) 2019/1150 on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services and corporate website users of online search engines (the Platform-to-business Regulation or P2B Regulation) has direct effect in EU Member States from 12 July 2020. See News Analysis: EU Platform-to-business (P2B) Regulation now in effect—a look at what that means for online trading.

The European Commission has published a set of resources to help traders, online platforms and search engines benefit from Regulation (EU) 2019/1150, the P2B Regulation. See: LNB News 10/07/2020 93.


Corporate

Trends in UK public M&A deals in H1 2020

Corporate analysis: What are the current trends in the UK public mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market? This Market Tracker trend report includes in-depth analysis of the 12 firm offers and 10 possible offers announced in H1 2020, and also provides insight into what to expect to see in H2 2020 and beyond. See: Market Tracker trend report—trends in UK public M&A deals in H1 2020.


Coronavirus

Companies House has announced that it will restart its process for companies that have applied for voluntary strike off from 10 September 2020. See: LNB News 13/07/2020 5.

 

General meetings

The Chartered Governance Institute (formerly known as ICSA) has published new guidance on shareholder meetings under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA 2020). See: LNB News 09/07/2020 61.

The Companies (Shareholders’ Rights to Voting Confirmations) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/717 come into force on 3 September 2020. The Regulations implement Directive (EU) 2017/828 (the Directive) regarding the encouragement of long-term shareholder engagement. See: LNB News 10/07/2020 4.


Accounts and reports

ESMA has updated its reporting manual on the European Single Electronic Format (ESEF). The update expands existing guidance and reflects relevant developments in the technical specifications. See: LNB News 10/07/2020 54.


Financial services

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced that it will replace its existing Financial Services Register with an enhanced version on 27 July 2020, and will then add a directory of certified and assessed persons to the Register later in 2020. See: LNB News 14/07/2020 75.


Information Law & TMT

Coronavirus

The ICO has updated its regulatory approach during the coronavirus public health emergency. UK Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has reiterated the importance for the ICO to respond ‘pragmatically and empathetically’ to the crisis. The regulatory approach has been updated with small additions, notably by reflecting the ability to conduct audit work remotely. See: LNB News 15/07/2020 13.


Damages for data breach

In Aven v Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd [2020] EWHC 1812 (QB) the court awarded claimants £18,000 each as compensation for damage and distress relating to sensitive personal data that was disclosed to third parties without taking reasonable steps to ensure its accuracy. This case could potentially provide the basis for a rise in the level of damages claimed by data subjects in future. See News Analysis: Controller in breach of the accuracy principle under DPA 1998 and liable for £18,000 per affected data subject (Aven v Orbis Business Intelligence).


Cybersecurity

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) have revealed that Huawei is to be removed from UK 5G networks by 2027. In addition, buying new Huawei 5G equipment will be banned after 31 December 2020. See: LNB News 15/07/2020 15.


Employment

Coronavirus

HMRC has updated seven guidance documents (and published one more) relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Changes include (a) clarification that a CJRS grant may be used for pay during statutory notice periods, (b) expansion of calculation guidance to include periods in August, (c) an intimation that HMRC will introduce legislation to recover overclaimed CJRS grants through the tax system, and (d) clarification regarding National Insurance contributions. See News Analysis: Further updates made on 10 July to HMRC guidance on Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The ‘Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)’ guidance published originally by BEIS has been expanded to include two extra work type/workplace-specific guides. Three of the existing guides, relating to close contact services, heritage locations and restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services, have been updated. See News Analysis: BEIS ‘Working safely during coronavirus’: two new workplace guides and three guides updated.

HMRC guidance for the tax treatment of coronavirus test kits provided to employees has been updated to reflect the change in policy announced last week. See: LNB News 10/07/2020 67.


Criminal records disclosure regime

The government has declared that it intends to make new changes to the criminal records disclosure regime in an effort to ensure that ‘the right balance is struck between rehabilitating offenders and protecting the public’. This includes amending current legislation to ‘remove the requirement for automatic disclosure of youth cautions, reprimands and warnings and remove the “multiple conviction” rule, which requires the automatic disclosure of all convictions where a person has more than one conviction, regardless of the nature of their offence or sentence’. See: LNB News 09/07/2020 106, LNB News 10/07/2020 44 and LNB News 10/07/2020 45.


Immigration

The Home Office has published a paper entitled ‘The UK's Points-Based Immigration System: Further Details’, which adds to its February Policy Paper on the topic. It deals with the new post-Brexit immigration system which will apply both to EEA nationals who do not have, or are not eligible for, status under the EU Settlement Scheme, and non-EEA nationals, alike. Although providing a raft of additional technical details and appendices, there are only a few new policy announcements in the paper. See News Analysis: Home Office’s ‘Further details’ paper on new Points-Based System provides mainly technical details.


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About the author:
Allison is a former partner of Shoosmiths, with extensive experience of legal management and practice compliance.