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Risk & Compliance forecast
The new Risk & Compliance forecast as at 15 December 2020 is now live. This month, we report on issues including (1) AML and CTF; (2) data protection; (3) regulation of legal services; and (4) crime prevention. You can rest assured we’re tracking forthcoming regulatory changes so you can plan ahead.
MLex: Nearly five months after the EU’s top court annulled the EU-US Privacy Shield, US companies are now realising that strict conditions placed on the use of an alternative mechanism (Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs)) may leave them with no legal basis for transatlantic personal data transfers. The legal dilemma is causing grave concern for many US companies given the $US 7.1 trn trade relationship between the US and Europe. See News Analysis: US companies fret EDPB guidance on transatlantic data transfers means flows must stop.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Financial Recovery Unit (FRU) has initiated retrieval proceedings against the defunct claims management firm, Pownall Marketing Limited (PML). The ICO fined PML £250,000 for making 356,369 nuisance calls over a six-month period in 2019. In the event that PML continues to not to pay the fine, the ICO FRU will likely petition to wind up the company. See: LNB News 16/12/2020 81.
The Irish Data Protection Commission (Irish DPC) has announced a conclusion to the data protection investigation it conducted into Twitter. The Irish DPC’s investigation commenced in January 2019 following receipt of a breach notification from Twitter. The draft decision in this inquiry was the first to go through the Article 65 (dispute resolution) process since the introduction of the GDPR and was the first Draft Decision in a ‘big tech’ case on which all EU supervisory authorities were consulted as concerned supervisory authorities. See: LNB News 15/12/2020 95.
Financial crime prevention
The UK government has published draft legislation which sets out the government’s ‘minimum standards’ for British Overseas Territories when they publish the owners of companies registered there. The draft legislation aims to improve corporate transparency and deter illicit finance. The government expects all Overseas Territories to have these registers in place by the end of 2023. See: LNB News 15/12/2020 103.
Law360: US anti-money laundering (AML) laws are set for their biggest overhaul in decades under a new defence spending bill that would expose the true owners behind shell corporations, a move that lawyers believe will provide regulators and banks with critical information to clamp down on criminals looking to move dirty money. See News Analysis: US bill to usher in new era for anti-money laundering.
A number of provisions and regulations relating to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 came into force on 14 December 2020. Others will come into force on IP completion day and some immediately after completion day. See: LNB News 10/12/2020 35, LNB News 15/12/2020 53 and LNB News 16/12/2020 5.
Brexit and beyond
Public Law analysis: As preparations intensify for changes taking effect from the end of the Brexit transition period (IP completion day), we have collated your frequently asked questions on Brexit-related research into a quick reference Brexit ‘how to’ guide. See News Analysis: Brexit ‘how to’ guide—your research queries answered.
Public Law analysis: Retained EU law is a legal term introduced into UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It is a bespoke legal concept capturing EU-derived laws, rights and principles retained and preserved in UK law for legal continuity after the transitional arrangements under the Withdrawal Agreement end (IP completion day). There is no specific list of retained EU law for lawyers to refer to. It is a matter of statutory interpretation. In this revisited analysis, Kieran Laird, partner and head of constitutional affairs at Gowling WLG, examines its meaning, scope and status, and provides essential tips for navigating and interpreting retained EU law. See: Retained EU law―a practical guide.
Law360, London: The European Commission President said on 16 December 2020 that there is now a ‘very narrow’ path to a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK, but warned that both sides are still divided over how to establish a mechanism that future-proofs fair competition on State aid and industry standards. See News Analysis: EU sees ‘narrow’ path for UK trade deal, competition hurdle.
MLex: The ratification of a post-Brexit deal by the European Parliament by the end of 2020 is still possible, provided negotiators conclude talks by the end of this week, MLex has learned. Lawmakers told EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, they would still be able to ratify a deal in the last week of December 2020 if they receive a request for a consent vote by 18 December 2020. See News Analysis: EU Parliament’s ratification of post-Brexit deal still possible if agreement is reached this week.
The Department for International Trade (DIT) has published new guidance on temporary restrictions to exporting goods when there is a shortage of supply to help stakeholders prepare for the end of the transition period and beyond. See: LNB News 16/12/2020 129.
The UK and Mexico signed a trade deal on 15 December 2020. Both the UK and Mexico have committed to start negotiating a new and ambitious free trade agreement in 2021 which will go ‘much further’ than the existing deal. See: LNB News 16/12/2020 13.
The Department for International Trade has issued an update on the negotiations for a UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), following a third round of remote talks between 23 November 2020 and 4 December 2020. Delegations from both sides ‘continued to have detailed textual discussions, and negotiators are now in the process of consolidating texts in several chapter areas’. See: LNB News 14/12/2020 80.
DIT has announced the signing of the UK-Switzerland Services Mobility Agreement. The agreement will allow UK service supplies to have effective access to the Swiss market and should provide continuity for UK businesses, professionals and other service providers to work freely in Switzerland for up to 90 days a year. The agreement will enter into force from 1 January 2021. See: LNB News 14/12/2020 45.
The UK and Vietnam signed a trade continuity agreement on 11 December 2020. See: LNB News 11/12/2020 49.
The UK and Canada signed a trade continuity agreement in Canada on 9 December 2020. The signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will lock the benefits of the existing UK-Canada trading relationship (as contained in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which ceases to apply at the end of the Brexit transition period), worth £20bn. The agreement is an interim agreement while the UK and Canada negotiate a new ‘tailor-made’ trade deal in 2021. See: LNB News 10/12/2020 78.
The UK and Singapore signed a trade continuity agreement and agreed to begin ‘scoping the modules’ for a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) in Singapore on 10 December 2020. The signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will lock in the benefits of the existing UK-Singapore trading relationship (as contained in the EU-Singapore FTA, which ceases to apply at the end of the Brexit transition period). See: LNB News 10/12/2020 68.
The European Commission has put forward four targeted contingency measures to ensure reciprocal air and road connectivity between the EU and UK with the aim of catering for a period where no agreement is in place. The four measures cover basic air connectivity, which involves a proposal for Regulation to ensure certain air services for six months; aviation safety, which proposes a Regulation ensuring that safety certificates can continue to be used; basic road connectivity, which includes a proposal for a Regulation covering basic connectivity for road freight and road passenger transport for six months; and fisheries, which proposes a Regulation to create the necessary legal framework for continued reciprocal access for vessels. See: LNB News 10/12/2020 61.
The Welsh Affairs Committee has warned that ‘there is a significant and unacceptable risk that neither Holyhead nor Fishguard/Pembroke will have appropriate inland facilities ready for the full implementation of new customs processes and checks following Brexit’. See: LNB News 11/12/2020 67.
The government has published a policy paper setting out further details of the agreement in principle on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, announced by the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee. The government also announced additional support for traders moving food and agricultural products subject to specific sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls. See: LNB News 11/12/2020 141.
The government has published a fresh webpage on Northern Ireland and the movement of goods, collating existing stakeholder and sectoral guidance on preparation for the end of the transition period. Subjects covered include the movement of goods into, out of and through Northern Ireland, focusing on topics such as the regulation of goods, export and import of animals, food and drink, supplying medicines and healthcare, and trading considerations. See: LNB News 11/12/2020 37.
The principle of construing commercial documents in a manner consistent with business common sense is well-established. However, in a forthright response to a summary judgment application, the High Court has re-emphasised the limits of that doctrine. The plain language of contracts cannot be ignored or rewritten, even where the outcome is said to make little commercial sense. If a term is so obviously sensible, why was it not set out expressly? Written by James McKean, barrister, at New Square Chambers. See News Analysis: Construing contracts—the limits of commercial common sense (Butcher v Pike).
The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Supreme Court appeal concerning its test case on non-damage business interruption (BI) insurance claims arising out of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown concluded on 19 November 2020. The FCA has announced on its dedicated BI website that it has been informed that the Supreme Court will not be in a position to hand down the judgment before January 2021. See: LNB News 15/12/2020 63.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has launched a consultation on draft guidance to assist parties in proving the presence of coronavirus within a particular area, radius or vicinity. If the policy wording contains wording ‘at the premises’ the draft guidance will not assist. It is not expected that the findings of this consultation will be affected by the decision of the Supreme Court, as this aspect of the High Court’s decision was not subject to appeal. The consultation closes on 18 January 2021. See: LNB News 11/12/2020 102.
The High Court has found that a trader received a VAT repayment from HMRC on trust for the intended payee. There was a resulting trust because the trader had given an undertaking that it would not use the repayment other than for reimbursing the party who had paid the VAT to the trader originally. That party could also enforce the trust, since the undertaking had been communicated to it. There was also a constructive trust as it would be unconscionable for the trader to retain the money. These proprietary claims prevailed over any claim in debt which the trader might have against the other party in other proceedings. The case is a useful recapitulation of the quistclose and constructive trust principles, and for the former helpfully explains when the intended payee (rather than the party making the advance) can enforce. Written by Daniel Webb, barrister, at Selborne Chambers. See News Analysis: Trader receives VAT repayment from HMRC on trust for customer—quistclose and constructive trusts (Deluxe Property Holdings Ltd v SCL Construction Ltd).
The London Stock Exchange (LSE) has published Market Notice N20/20, which confirms proposed changes to the LSE's Primary Market Rulebooks and Temporary Permissions Regime (TPR) requirements for EEA ETFs, and Market Notice N21/20, which confirms changes to the LSE's Secondary Markets Rulebooks. The amendments to the Rulebooks will become effective from 1 January 2021. See: LNB News 10/12/2020 127.
Corporate analysis: This Market Tracker Trend Report examines the current recommendations and guidelines for public companies in relation to ethnic diversity reporting in the UK, focusing on how these have been interpreted, implemented, and reported on by FTSE 100 constituents. The report also examines recent and upcoming developments anticipated to have an impact on this area, and provides companies with expert ‘best practice’ guidance in advance of the upcoming target deadline set by the Parker Review for FTSE 100 companies to have at least one ethnic minority director on the board by the end of 2021. See News Analysis: Ethnicity in corporate governance reporting 2020—Market Tracker Trend Report.
The European Banking Authority, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) have written a joint letter commenting on the IFRS Foundation’s consultation on sustainability reporting. In conjunction with the publication of the joint letter, ESMA has also published its own response to the consultation, in which it recommends establishing high-quality international standards while also catering for the needs of jurisdictions that are at different stages in their sustainability efforts. See: LNB News 16/12/2020 67.
Equity capital markets
The European Commission has adopted a draft delegated regulation supplementing the EU Prospectus Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2017/1129) concerning the minimum information content of the document to be published for a prospectus exemption in connection with a takeover by means of an exchange offer, a merger or a division. See: LNB News 16/12/2020 136.
ESMA has announced that Euroclear UK & Ireland Limited (EUI), the central securities depository (CSD) established in the UK, will be recognised as a third-country CSD (TC-CSD) after the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. See: LNB News 11/12/2020 85.
Aquis Exchange PLC has announced that its proposed changes to the rules and regulations of its subsidiary Aquis Stock Exchange (AQSE) Growth Market are now in force. The AQSE Growth Market will be divided into two segments, namely Access and Apex, with different levels of admission criteria, in order to ‘provide appropriate support across companies’ growth cycles’. See: LNB News 14/12/2020 77.
The European Commission has welcomed the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU on amendments to the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2014/65/EU (MiFID II), the Prospectus Regulation (EU) 2017/1129, the Securitisation Regulation (EU) 2017/2402 and the Capital Requirements Regulation (EU) 575/2013 (CRR). The amendments were proposed in July 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the measures are referred to collectively as the capital markets recovery package. See: LNB News 15/12/2020 49.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has announced its corporate reporting and audit quality review programme for 2021–2022 alongside its priority sectors for review. The FRC’s Corporate Reporting Review (CRR) team will enhance its routine reviews of corporate reporting with five thematic reviews. The FRC’s Audit Quality Review (AQR) team will focus on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, fraud, estimates and climate risk when conducting its programme of audit quality inspections. In selecting corporate reports and audits for review, the FRC will prioritise the travel, hospitality and leisure, retail, property and financial services sectors. See: LNB News 11/12/2020 75.
BEIS has revealed, in an updated policy paper on the government’s position on the effect of Commission Delegated Regulation on a European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) (Delegated Regulation 2019/815, as amended by Delegated Regulation 2019/2100) (the ESEF Regulation), that the government will not be implementing a mandatory auditor reporting requirement on the electronic formatting of accounts as part of the application of the ESEF Regulation. The policy paper has also been updated to reflect the one-year postponed application of the ESEF requirements (already announced by the the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), so as to now apply for accounts with financial years beginning on or after 1 January 2021) and the publication by the FRC of the newly created UKSEF taxonomy, which will allow the filing of ESEF tagged accounts to the FCA, Companies House and HMRC. See: LNB News 10/12/2020 103.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Companies House have launched three consultations on plans to reform the UK's register of company information. The first consultation focuses on improving the quality and value of financial information available on the companies register. The second consultation proposes new powers for Companies House to query, investigate and remove false or inaccurate information. The third consultation proposes that corporate directors be prohibited unless their own boards comprise all natural persons and those natural persons have their identities verified. All three consultations will run until 3 February 2021. See: LNB News 10/12/2020 64.
MLex: Major tech companies hosting user-generated content will face duty of care obligations under a new strict online harms regime proposed by the UK government. The new rules will introduce an independent regulator with enhanced powers to impose fines of up to £18m ($US 24m) or 10% of global turnover, whichever higher, or even block companies from operating in the UK if they keep illegal content online. See News Analysis: Tech platforms will see close scrutiny under plans to make UK ‘safest in the world’ to go online.
The Online Safety Bill, which will give effect to the regulatory framework outlined in the response, will be ready in 2021. In line with the position set out in the earlier White Paper, harms resulting from breaches of data protection legislation will be excluded from the new regime. However, proposals relating to the protection of children are intended to compliment the ICO’s Age Appropriate Design Code. See: LNB News 16/12/2020 57.
The UK Parliament International Trade Committee (ITC) has launched a consultation on the issues around digital trade. The consultation discusses data provisions in free trade agreements, security and data privacy problems, the impact of digital trade on the environment, and the appropriate legal framework. The consultation closes on 12 February 2021. See: LNB News 16/12/2020 38.
MLex: Google and Amazon have both been fined by the French data-protection authority, Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), for violating the EU’s rules on gaining a user’s consent for advertising cookies and for failing to provide adequate information to users. The CNIL held that both websites had failed to obtain prior consent for placing cookies, which is in violation of France’s Data Protection Act. Google has been fined €100m and Amazon.com €35m. See News Analysis: Google and Amazon given hefty fines for violating French privacy law on consent for cookies.
Internet and digital markets
The European Commission has published its proposed new rules for digital platforms as part of its Digital Services Act package (comprising the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act) in a bid to ‘strengthen the Single Market for digital services and foster innovation and competitiveness of the European online environment’. The new rules will affect ‘all digital services, including social media, online market places, and other online platforms that operate in the European Union’ and are intended to eliminate damaging practices, such as fraudulent advertising, online scams, trading of unsafe products and the spread of disinformation on digital platforms, and impose liability on marketplaces when things go wrong. See: LNB News 15/12/2020 104.
EURid has published new guidance on .eu domain names registered by registrants established or residing in the UK, or by UK citizens residing outside of the EU or EEA, to help stakeholders prepare for the end of the transition period and beyond. Further new and updated guidance may be issued as the transition period progresses, so stakeholders are advised to monitor these pages for updates. See: LNB News 15/12/2020 64.
ENISA has published its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Threat Landscape report. The report highlights the importance of cybersecurity and data protection in every step of the AI ecosystem to establish trustworthy technology for end-users. See: LNB News 15/12/2020 118.
The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights has published a new report setting out how EU companies and public administrations should use AI in a way that upholds fundamental rights standards. The report presents examples on how this can be achieved in four key areas: social benefits, predictive policy, health services and targeted advertising. See: LNB News 15/12/2020 57.
The Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) has announced that, from 1 January 2021, all providers of phone-paid services participating or wishing to participate in the provision of phone-paid services to UK consumers, must register with the PSA and comply with the PSA Code of Practice. This requirement is regardless of the country in which they are established and the services they provide. The change is pursuant to the Communications Act (e-Commerce) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/1478, which comes into force at 11 pm on 31 December 2020, and removes the application of the ‘country of origin’ principle. See: LNB News 15/12/2020 113.
Ofcom has fined BT £6.3m after it failed to give a rival company the same information as BT’s own bid team had during the tender for a public sector contract in Northern Ireland, which it won in June 2018. Ofcom found that BT had implemented compliance processes to address the risk of not treating the two bidders equally and therefore does not believe the breaches were deliberate. BT has admitted it broke the rules and has entered into a settlement agreement with Ofcom. See: LNB News 14/12/2020 27.
According to a Written Statement to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and proposals set out in a Department for Work and Pensions Policy Paper, on 12 April 2021: (1) the rates for Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay, Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay and Maternity Allowance will all increase from £151.20 to £151.97 per week, and (2) the rate for Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £95.85 to £96.35 per week. See News Analysis: Rates of SMP, SSP, Maternity Allowance etc to be increased in April 2021.
The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the UK government’s consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which considered whether the process for transgender people to gain legal recognition in their acquired gender should be reformed. The briefing paper also deals briefly with the Scottish Government’s consultation on the same issues. See: LNB News 11/12/2020 23.
The Department for Transport (DfT) and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency have updated their guidance to confirm the temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the EU drivers’ hours rules apply from 12.01 am on 10 December 2020 until 11.59 pm on 30 December 2020. However, this will be subject to review. See: LNB News 11/12/2020 38.
Restrictions on competition
The case of Quilter Private Client Advisers v Falconer  EWHC 3294 (QB) concerned claims by the claimant (Quilter), the former employer of the first defendant (EF), an FCA-regulated financial services adviser, that she was in breach of contract in working in the same role for the second defendant (Continuum) which was acknowledged to be a competitor. EF was only employed by Quilter from January until July 2019 during which time she was on a probationary period. The High Court held that each of a non-competition clause, a non-solicitation clause, and a non-dealing clause in the contract of employment of EF was an invalid restraint of trade and unenforceable. However, the High Court held that EF was in breach of certain other clauses in her contract of employment, including the one headed ‘The Role’, and the ‘conflict of business interest’ clause. The court further ruled that EF had breached her duty of fidelity as well as the duty of trust and confidence which she had owed to the claimant, in scanning their client documentation on to her personal laptop. The court also held, among other things, that EF had breached an equitable obligation of confidence that she had owed to the claimant in misusing its confidential information. The claim against Continuum was dismissed on the facts. See Case Digest:  All ER (D) 68 (Dec).
On 10 December 2020, the UK opened up a process for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals to apply for a frontier worker permit. This will allow some cross-border commuters who work in the UK but live abroad to continue their working pattern after the end of the Brexit transition period. Joanna Hunt, managing associate, Parvin Iman, trainee solicitor and Kathryn Denyer, managing practice development lawyer at Lewis Silkin examine key questions on the new process. See News Analysis: New frontier worker route launched from 10 December 2020.
The Home Office has published three pieces of guidance relating to the new frontier worker permit, which EEA and Swiss citizens who met the conditions for being a frontier worker before 31 December 2020 will be able to apply for. See: LNB News 10/12/2020 32.
The Home Office has published guidance for individuals applying to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) who have been affected by restrictions associated with coronavirus. See: LNB News 15/12/2020 71.
The Home Office has also published new guidance for applicants for documentation issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 (EEA Regs 2016), SI 2016/1052, who have been affected by coronavirus restrictions. See: LNB News 15/12/2020 79.
This document contains the highlights from the past week’s news. To receive all our news stories, whether on a daily or a weekly basis, amend your personal settings within your ‘News’ tab on the homepage by clicking on either ‘Email’ or ‘RSS’ (depending on how you prefer to receive them) on the right-hand side of the blue banner.
31 December 2020
Dealing with conflicts of interest within your organisation
Recent developments in commercial contracts (2020)
Cloud computing (2020)
Drones law (2020)
Influencers and intellectual property (2020)
(Brief) The Copyright Directive (2020)
Adtech in 2020
The European Electronic Communication Code (2020)
Commercial Law—End of year round-up 2020
Consumer law in 2020
E-commerce in 2020
Please follow us on Twitter at @inhouse_leaders. You can also keep updated by reading our blog. If you need an overview of the materials in the in-house module, see: In-house—introduction to our materials.
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In this session we’ll be discussing our thoughts on how to deal with the new world (whatever that may be) after the end of the Brexit transition period. There also be an opportunity to share experiences and helpful insights with your peers under Chatham House rules.Held in partnership with Radius Law and Flex Legal.
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