Latest Legal and Regulatory news update - 22nd May

Latest Legal and Regulatory news update - 22nd May

In this issue:

Risk & Compliance

Commercial

Corporate

Information Law & TMT

Employment

Brexit

Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit

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Risk & Compliance

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

A key part of the government’s plan to get the UK’s workforce safely back to work is the newly published ‘Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)’ guidance. Simon Belfield, director at DWF, and Nick Barker, senior associate at DWF, comment that the safety of the nation’s workforce will be enforced through ‘spot checks’ of workplaces and look at what this might entail and how businesses can prepare for them. See News Analysis: The role of ‘spot checks’ in ensuring workplace safety. See also Practice Note: Coronavirus (COVID-19)—safe working in an office environment and Precedent: Coronavirus (COVID-19) workplace risk assessment and plan—offices.

HMRC has published new guidance for businesses that are due to renew money laundering supervision with HMRC. Businesses can either take a payment deferral for 6 months from the date it is due or deregister if the business stops trading due to coronavirus. See: LNB News 19/05/2020 76.


Risk & Compliance forecast

Our new Risk & Compliance forecast (as at 19 May 2020) is now live. This month, we report on issues including data protection and AML and CTF. You can rest assured we're tracking forthcoming regulatory changes so you can plan ahead. See: Risk & Compliance forecast as at 19 May 2020.


AML & CTF

The European Commission has sent letters urging eight Member States and the UK to fully transpose the Fifth Money Laundering Directive 2018/843 (MLD5), the deadline for which was 10 January 2020. As part of the Commission’s six-point plan to improve the EU’s fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, MLD5 must be implemented. If the Commission does not receive a ‘satisfactory response’ from Member States in four months, the Commission may send reasoned opinions. See: LNB News 14/05/2020 79.

 

Commercial

Coronavirus

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published a webpage setting out how it is interacting with firms as regards its High Court test case on business interruption (BI) insurance during the coronavirus pandemic. See: LNB News 15/05/2020 64.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute has announced the formation of Business Against Scams (BAS), an initiative led by National Trading Standards and joined by more than 100 organisations set up to train employees and help them identify and prevent scams which they may be targets of as a result of working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. BAS is providing free online training modules dealing with the most common scams involving businesses, such as government grants and tax refunds, requests to amend payment details, technological support and repair offers and impersonating a CEO, and also teaches employees how to avoid falling victims to such fraud. See: LNB News 14/05/2020 31.

In many commercial agreements, you will find the expressions ‘business day’ or ‘working day’ used to define periods of performance time. Sometimes these terms are defined (and definitions used may vary), while on other occasions these terms are not defined and their interpretation is left somewhat to chance. Daniel Tunkel, Partner and Head of Financial Regulation at Memery Crystal, outlines some issues to consider during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. See News Analysis: ‘Business Day’ vs ‘Working Day’.

 

Confidential information

A recent decision of the High Court in the case of Media Entertainment NV v Karyagdyyev and another has considered the requirement of knowledge in order to be liable for misuse of confidential information. Dan Greatorex, associate, and Hamish Corner, partner, at Shoosmiths examine the court’s decision that the infringer must have knowledge that its use of the confidential information is wrongful. See News Analysis: Breach of confidence—infringer’s knowledge of lack of authorisation (Media Entertainment NV v Karyagdyyev and another).

 

Corporate

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has updated its guidance for companies on corporate governance and reporting (including interim reports) during the coronavirus pandemic to include additional guidance on exceptional or similar items and Alternative Performance Measures. See: LNB News 20/05/2020 83.

Given the challenges to company administration posed by the coronavirus pandemic, on 14 May 2020 the European Parliament consented to a proposal for a Regulation extending the general meeting deadlines of European companies and European Co-operative Societies. See LNB News 19/05/2020 1.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced that the temporary suspension of wrongful trading liability will continue until 30 June 2020. The measure was initially set to expire on 1 June 2020. It was introduced so that company directors could keep their business going amid the coronavirus outbreak without the threat of personal liability. See: LNB News 14/05/2020 43.

The FRC and the BEIS have published a joint Q&A document on how company filings, AGMs and general meetings should be conducted during the coronavirus pandemic. See: LNB News 14/05/2020 84.

 

Information Law & TMT

Coronavirus

The NCSC has published a new guidance package for small businesses to help them adapt to new ways of working throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance has been specifically designed to support small businesses that rely more heavily on IT services to run their businesses and provides a concise resource that helps to manage the transition safely and securely. In its guidance, the NCSC has provided a number of questions which small businesses can ask themselves and their IT service providers regarding the security of the systems they rely on. See: LNB News 20/05/2020 16.

The NCSC has also released a blog post setting out useful tips for people on how to set up personal IT so that they can work from home securely. See: LNB News 18/05/2020 66.

The ICO has published further guidance for employers on testing employees for coronavirus. The guidance follows the government’s announcement on 10 May 2020 about returning to work, and its subsequent recovery plan published on 11 May 2020. See: LNB News 13/05/2020 80.


Data protection

The Court of Justice has announced that its decision in Facebook Ireland and Schrems, Case C-311/18 (commonly known as Schrems II) will be delivered on 16 July 2020. See: LNB News 15/05/2020 58.

In the summer of 2019 the ICO announced its intention to fine the airline British Airways £183.39m and the hotel group Marriott International £99,200,396, for respective data breaches under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Regulation (EU) 2016/679. This process was expected to have been completed a few months after this announcement. Although no official statement has been made by the ICO it is now understood the fines will be finalised in August–September 2020. Jonathan Armstrong and André Bywater of Cordery explain. See News Analysis: Finalisation of BA & Marriott data breach fines by ICO now expected in August–September 2020.

 

Employment

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The government has announced that a new online service will be launched on 26 May 2020 for small and medium-sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020. See: LNB News 20/05/2020 1.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has published guidance on coronavirus and the impact it is having on workers’ mental wellbeing. See: LNB News 19/05/2020 12.

The HMRC guidance notes for employers and employees on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) have been updated for a ninth time on 14 May 2020. The guides for employers on how to calculate 80% of wages for a claim through the CJRS, and on how to submit a claim have also been updated. See News Analysis: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: ninth updates to HMRC employer and employee guidance.

A temporary exemption for tax and National Insurance contributions (NIC) has been announced for expenses reimbursed by employers for home office equipment. This temporary exemption will ensure that no tax liability arises where employers reimburse employees’ personal expenditure on home office equipment arising from arrangements to work from home during the coronavirus outbreak. See: LNB News 15/05/2020 2.

 

Brexit

New UK Global Tariff to replace EU Common External Tariff

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has announced the launch of a UK-specific most favoured nation (MFN) tariff regime, the UK Global Tariff (UKGT), which the government intends to apply for goods imported to the UK from 1 January 2021. The UKGT will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff (EU CET) which continues to apply in the UK during the Brexit transition period. The UKGT is being introduced as part of the UK’s new independent trading regime and is specifically tailored to meet the UK economy’s needs, making it ‘easier and cheaper for businesses to import goods from overseas’. See: LNB News 19/05/2020 80.


UK publishes proposed draft legal texts for the future UK-EU relationship

On 19 May 2020, two months after the European Commission’s UK Task Force (UKTF) published its proposed draft legal text for an agreement on the future UK-EU relationship, the UK government has published its own draft proposals. The 12 separate documents include detailed draft ‘working texts’ for a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) plus a number of separate draft agreements on specific subjects. Richard Eccles, partner at Bird & Bird, comments on the latest developments. See: LNB News 19/05/2020 103.

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit

Access news, practical guidance & Q&As from across practice areas in one place

A coronavirus toolkit has been launched to assist organisations with common areas of concern at this challenging time. The toolkit provides easy access to curated news, practical guidance and Q&As from a number of practice areas (subject to subscription) that relate to these key concerns, including:

• pandemic management

• employment issues

• businesses in distress

• contracts

In addition to coronavirus-specific content, the toolkit also highlights additional guidance and supporting materials of relevance to each of these areas. We will continue to develop areas of interest over time.

See: Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit, which includes updated Practice Note: Coronavirus (COVID-19)—safe working in an office environment and new Precedent: Coronavirus (COVID-19) workplace risk assessment and plan—offices.

 

 


 

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