The progress of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, a review into the government’s net zero target, two employment-related consultations and an investigation into greenwashing are among the key developments for in-house lawyers to track this month.
Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill
The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill completed its report stage and third reading in the House of Commons on 25 January 2023. The Bill now passes to the House of Lords for consideration.
BEIS has published the final report by Chris Skidmore, an independent review of the government’s approach to delivering its net zero target, which includes recommendations relevant to UK companies. Among the 129 recommendations and feedback, the key points relating to corporate reporting and corporate governance include:
- ISSB. The government is to endorse and implement the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) standards as soon as possible. The UK should launch a formal adoption mechanism as soon as the ISSB standards are published and move quickly to assess and endorse the standards for use in the UK.
- Transition plans. The UK Transition Plan Taskforce (TPT) is to share its work on net zero transition plan disclosures internationally. When more developed, TPT standards for net zero transition plans for UK companies are to be made mandatory for both listed and private companies to ensure comparable disclosure standards across the economy.
- Stewardship. The UK Stewardship Code should be updated as part of its review at the end of 2023 to explicitly reflect the need to take sustainability and the transition into account.
The government has launched consultations on a:
- New draft Statutory Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement, where it is used as a means of imposing changes to terms and conditions of employment. The consultation closes on 18 April.
- Proposal to make holiday entitlement under the Working Time Regulations 1998 proportionate to hours worked. The consultation closes on 9 March.
On 10 January, the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill 2022-23 had its first reading in the House of Commons. The Bill would allow the government to make regulations prescribing minimum service levels during a strike in health, transport, education, fire and rescue, border control, nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management services.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced its plans to scrutinise green claims made about household essentials, such as food and drink and toiletries. This action is part of its ongoing investigation into misleading green claims and follows its review of the fashion sector, which promoted enforcement action against three fashion brands.
The CMA has also published for consultation a draft of its proposed guidance on the application of the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 to horizontal agreements. The draft guidance is intended to replace the European Commission’s guidance on horizontal co-operation agreements. The CMA invites responses to this consultation by 8 March.
On 12 January, the Foreign Subsidies Regulation entered into force. The new rules give the European Commission the power to investigate financial contributions granted by non-EU countries to companies engaging in an economic activity in the EU and redress, if needed, their distortive effects.
On 18 January, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022-23 completed its report stage and third reading in the House of Commons. The House of Commons agreed various government amendments to the Bill, which included a new clause on assimilated law. The Bill had its first reading in the House of Lords on 19 January. A revised text of the Bill, as introduced to the House of Lords, has also been published.
The Unified Patent Court (UPC) has announced that the start of its operation has been delayed. The Sunrise Period is now due to start on 1 March followed by the entry into force of the UPC Agreement on 1 June.
Dates for your diary
Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) expects to apply revised benchmark policies to shareholder meetings from this date onward.
ISS 2023 proxy voting guidelines updates effective for meetings held on or after this date.
Changes relating to the digital patent grant procedure come into force.
Consultation ahead of negotiations for South Korea free trade agreement closes.
The Carer’s Leave Bill 2022-23 and the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill 2022-23 are scheduled to have their report stage and third reading in the House of Commons.
The report stage of the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill 2022-23 is scheduled to take place.
The following Bills are scheduled to have their second reading in the House of Commons:
- Paternity (Leave and Pay) Bill 2022-23.
- Workers (Rights and Definition) Bill 2022-23.
- Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill 2022-23.
- Employment Bill 2022-23.
- Full Employment Bill 2022-23.
- Asylum Seekers (Permission to Work) Bill 2022-23.
FRC consultation on a draft minimum standard for audit committees closes.
Deadline for responding to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on the Hague Judgments Convention 2019.
European Commission consultation on digital consumer protection laws closes.
UNIDROIT consultation on digital assets and private law principles closes.
Amendments to presumptions of the definition of acting in concert apply to all companies and transactions subject to the Takeover Code.
Closing date for FCA consultation on streamlining transparency rules on structured digital reporting of annual financial statements by companies.
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill 2022-23 is due to have its report stage and third reading in the House of Commons.
The Working Time Regulations (Amendment) Bill 2022-23 is scheduled to have its second reading in the House of Commons.
Deadline for responses to the TPT consultation on its disclosure framework and implementation guidance.
Consultation on draft guidance on the Finance Bill 2023 reforms of the R&D tax rules closes.