Key developments on the agenda for businesses in May include the approval of a new EU Trade Secrets Directive, a consultation on the E-Privacy Directive and changes in the recruitment industry.
European Council expected to approve EU Trade Secrets Directive
As anticipated, the European Parliament has approved a new EU Trade Secrets Directive. Assuming the draft Directive is approved by the European Council, as is expected at a vote on 26 May, it will come into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal and member states will then have two years in which to implement it at a national level.
The new Directive will impose a minimum harmonised standard, under which a “trade secret” is defined as information that is secret, has commercial value because it is secret, and has been subject to reasonable steps to keep it secret.
European Commission launches consultation on the E-Privacy Directive
Following the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation, the European Commission has launched a consultation on possible changes to the E-Privacy Directive, which concerns the processing of personal data and the protection of individuals’ privacy in the electronic communications sector. Among other things, it restricts the sending of unsolicited electronic direct marketing (for example, by email or text).
The consultation closes on 5 July 2016 and the Commission will use the feedback to prepare a new legislative proposal on e-privacy, expected by the end of 2016.
Changes to recruitment industry come into effect
Organisations that use recruitment agencies or employment agencies when hiring employees should take note of amendments to the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/3319), which take effect on 8 May. The changes will ban recruitment and employment agencies from recruiting solely from other European Economic Area countries without advertising in Great Britain.
Abolition of bearer shares
The prohibition on the creation of bearer shares took effect from 26 May 2015. Companies with outstanding bearer shares must apply for a court order cancelling them by 25 May 2016. Failure to make the application is an offence.
Fair and Effective Markets Review: implementation report expected
The chairs of the Fair and Effective Markets Review, a review into the way wholesale markets operate, are expected to provide a full implementation report on the recommendations contained in its final report, to the government and the Bank of England by June 2016.
The final report included a recommendation that the maximum prison sentence for criminal market abuse should be extended from seven to ten years, to align the penalties with those for comparable economic crimes such as fraud.
Reporting payment practices and policies for large companies delayed until October
It had been expected that large companies would have to start reporting on their supplier payment practices and policies from April, but the required regulations have not yet been made and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has confirmed that the duty will not now come into effect until October 2016.
Countdown to implementation of MAR
Companies preparing for the implementation of the Market Abuse Regulation (596/2014/EU) (MAR), which will apply from 3 July 2016, will be assisted by the Financial Conduct Authority’s recent publication of its policy statement and Handbook changes on MAR.
Last orders: consultations closing in May
Consultations on proposed changes to the AIM Rules for Companies ahead of the Market Abuse Regulation coming into force, proposed amendments to various provisions of the Listing Rules, Prospectus Rules and Disclosure and Transparency Rules, changes to the UKLA Knowledge Base and on the approach that employment tribunals should adopt when assessing pensions loss come to a close in May.