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What’s on the agenda for in-house lawyers in March 2017?

Key themes and developments on the agenda for businesses in March include corporate governance, guidance on audit tendering, the launch of the National Cyber Security Centre and the spring Budget.

Corporate governance reform

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has announced that it plans to carry out a fundamental review of the UK Corporate Governance CodeThe review will take account of work done by the FRC on corporate culture and succession planning, and the issues raised in the BEIS Green Paper on corporate governance reform. The FRC will launch a consultation on its proposals later in 2017, based on the outcome of the review and the government’s response to its Green Paper.

In January, GC100 (in partnership with Practical Law and Herbert Smith Freehills LLP) hosted a conference on corporate governance, business and society. Several panel discussions took place focusing on different issues raised by the Green Paper. This article highlights the key points discussed at the event.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee is continuing its investigation into corporate governance reform and has published written evidence given by PwC and the Institute of Directors.

Audit tendering best practice guidance

Most in-house lawyers need to deal with accountants and auditors frequently during their work, however many have a poor understanding of what accountants and auditors do, how they are regulated and the rules that they have to follow.

Guidelines published by the Investment Association and the Financial Reporting Council  set out best practice for companies when conducting an audit tender process.

For further practical information on the main issues that accountants and auditors cover, see Demystifying auditing for lawyers.

National Cyber Security Centre

Cyber attacks continue to increase in frequency, severity and sophistication, and several high-profile breaches have promoted cyber security up the political and corporate agenda. In response to these developments, the government has launched the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The NCSC aims to protect critical services from cyber attacks, manage major incidents and improve the underlying security of the UK internet through technological improvement and advice to citizens and organisations.

At the opening of the NCSC, the Chancellor announced that businesses will be invited to second up to 100 employees to work in the organisation to test and challenge the government’s thinking on cyber security.

This toolkit highlights all Practical Law’s content on cyber security.

Guidance on the General Data Protection Regulation

Companies will welcome news of upcoming guidance on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which should assist them with their preparations for its implementation.

The Article 29 Working Party has announced plans to adopt amended versions of guidelines on data protection officers, lead authority and data portability by April 2017 at the latest. Guidance on data protection impact assessments is also planned for “pre-adoption” in April 2017, and guidelines on certification are expected to be “pre-adopted” in June 2017.

EU-US Privacy Shield complaint documentation

The new privacy shield regime for the protection of data transferred from the EU to the US continues to develop. The Article 29 Working Party has adopted a template Privacy Shield complaint form for making commercial related complaints, which outlines information that should be provided by an individual to a national data protection authority.

This includes information on the alleged violation of the Privacy Shield framework by the US company, the information or relief sought and the outcome of efforts made to resolve the matter with the US company or otherwise.

Spring 2017 Budget

Practical Law has published a summary of its business tax predictions  for the spring 2017 Budget, which will take place on Wednesday 8 March 2017. Practical Law will publish detailed coverage of the key tax announcements in the Budget on 9 March 2017.

The Finance Bill will be published on 20 March 2017.

Worker status: the Pimlico Plumbers case

A Court of Appeal decision upholding an employment tribunal’s judgment that a plumber was a worker and not truly self-employed has again highlighted the difficulties companies can face in determining an individual’s legal status for employment law purposes.

This case follows other recent employment tribunal decisions on worker status involving Uber and Citysprint and came as the first of ten town hall events designed to gather evidence for the Taylor Review on Modern Employment Practices took place in London.

Guidance on gender pay gap reporting

Acas and the Government Equalities Office have jointly published guidance on the gender pay gap reporting regulations, which are due to come into force on 6 April 2017 for large private and voluntary sector employers. The guidance provides some clarity around how employers should handle overseas employees, and how pension contributions and bonus payments should be treated for the purposes of the regulations.

The guidance encourages affected employers to go beyond the requirements of the regulations and implement an “action plan” that aims to reduce the gender pay gap.

Main provisions of Trade Union Act 2016 come into force

The main provisions of the Trade Union Act 2016 come into force on 1 March 2017. These include:

  • Ballots: 50% turnout requirement.
  • Information requirements in relation to voting papers and information provided to members on the result of a ballot.
  • Union supervision of picketing.

Last orders: consultations coming to a close in March

A consultation on the reform of corporate criminal liability comes to a close in March.

Practical Law In-house Robert Clay

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