Key items on the agenda for businesses this month include digesting the implications of the new Bills and proposals announced in the Queen’s Speech, reviewing a report on directors’ remuneration voting trends and continuing preparations for GDPR.
Implications of the Queen’s speech
The Queen’s Speech was delivered on 21 June. It set out details of legislation that the government intends to carry over into, or introduce in, the 2017-19 Parliamentary session.
Many of the Bills announced in the Speech concern Brexit, including Bills on trade, immigration and agriculture. Practical Law has published a survey report that analyses recent research into how in-house lawyers, and the organisations they work in, are approaching Brexit.
Several other Bills and proposals will be of interest to in-house lawyers.
Data Protection Bill
A new Data Protection Bill is planned to ensure the UK maintains a world-class data protection regime that is fit for the digital age and allows citizens control over their data. Further to implementing the EU General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (GDPR), the Bill will replace the Data Protection Act 1998.
The Bill will include a right to be forgotten when individuals no longer want their data to be processed, provided that there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it. It will require social media platforms to delete information held about individuals at the age of 18. The Bill will also update the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) powers and ability to impose sanctions.
A new Digital Charter is proposed with the aim of making the UK the best place to start and run a digital business and the safest place in the world to be online. It aims to balance users’ and businesses’ freedom and security online.
The government wants better international co-ordination to deliver commitments made to tackle modern slavery. It also wants to ensure that governments and international agencies prioritise interventions and resources to tackle modern slavery and bring perpetrators to justice and also support victims.
Gender pay gap and discrimination
The government states that it intends to make further progress in tackling the gender pay gap and reducing discrimination on all grounds. No new measures were announced, but existing steps (such as the introduction of gender pay gap reporting and shared parental leave, the McGregor-Smith Review into race in the workplace and the Parker Review on ethnic diversity on boards) were referenced.
The Courts Bill aims to reform the courts and tribunals systems, improve access to justice, make better use of technology and modernise working practices. It will also enable the flexible deployment of judges.
GDPR: less than one year to go
Among several initiatives to mark one year until GDPR compliance, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) updated its “12 steps to take now” guidance. The ICO also published an updated data protection self-assessment toolkit for SMEs that includes a new element to help organisations assess their progress in preparing for the GDPR.
Directors’ remuneration voting trends
Practical Law has published a short report analysing directors’ remuneration voting trends, which is based on those FTSE 350 companies that have held their 2017 AGM on or before 31 May. It includes a comparison of the voting results of those companies that proposed a resolution to approve the remuneration policy and/or remuneration report at both their 2016 and 2017 AGMs, together with an analysis of the voting results on the remuneration report and policy so far this year.
Taylor review on modern employment practices
The Taylor Review into modern employment practices was anticipated to report in June and is now expected in July. The Law Society has recently published its submission to the review in which, among other things, it proposes new statutory definitions of “employee”, “worker” and “self-employed”, recommends that all individuals should receive a written statement confirming their employment status and suggests that employment tribunal fees should be abolished, at least until the tribunal modernisation programme has been completed.
Changes to the conduct rules in the PRA senior managers and certification regime (SM and CR) due
On 3 July, changes to the conduct rules in the PRA senior managers and certification regime (SM and CR) and the senior insurance managers regime come into force.
Among other things, these changes set out the PRA’s expectations on the new duty of responsibility for senior managers and the application of rules of conduct to notified non-executive directors.
Amendments to international registration of trade marks come into force
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) amendments to the Common Regulations under the Madrid Agreement and Protocol concerning the international registration of trade marks enter into force on 1 July 2017. Among the new provisions are a requirement that WIPO, when it examines an international application, also examines limitations to the list of goods and services contained in the application.
Business and Property Courts due to formally open
The specialist civil courts and the lists of the Chancery Division are being re-branded as the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales. They will act as a single umbrella for the specialist courts across England and Wales, allowing for more flexible cross-deployment of judges with suitable expertise to sit on appropriate business and property cases. The court launch dates are as follows:
- London: 4 July.
- Birmingham: 6 July.
- Leeds: 10 July.
- Manchester: 11 July.
- Bristol: 14 July.
- Cardiff: 24 July.
Review of fixed recoverable costs expected to be completed
Lord Justice Jackson’s review of fixed recoverable costs is due to be completed by 31 July. The government has agreed that his review will inform the public consultation on proposed reforms, which will follow the review after consideration of its recommendations.
Rules banning high fat, salt and sugar food and drink products in children’s media come into force
Committee of Advertising Practice rules banning the advertising of high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) food or drink products in children’s media come into force on 1 July. The rules will apply across all non-broadcast media including print, cinema, online and in social media. The new restrictions will bring the non-broadcast advertising rules in line with the TV rules, and are expected to lead to a major reduction in the number of ads for HFSS food and drinks seen by children.
Closing date for government consultation on caste discrimination and equality law
The Government Equalities Office consultation on how best to address caste discrimination in Britain comes to a close on 18 July. The consultation offers two options as a way forward: either prohibiting caste discrimination through developing case law or by specifying caste in the Equality Act.