With the UK due to leave the EU on 31 October 2019, Brexit planning remains top of the agenda for in-house lawyers this month. Other developments of note concern the supply of statutory audit services and Good Work Plan proposals to help working parents.
The UK is scheduled to leave the EU (potentially with no deal) if the withdrawal agreement is not ratified by 31 October 2019. Following the agreement to extend the Article 50 period, if the withdrawal agreement is not ratified by this date, the Article 50 period will end at 11pm on 31 October 2019 and the UK will leave the EU with no deal, unless a further extension is agreed or the Article 50 notice is revoked.
On 9 September 2019, the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill 2017-19 received Royal Assent to become the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. The Act includes provisions that impose a legal obligation on the Prime Minister to request a third extension to the Article 50 period until 11.00 pm on 31 January 2020 unless, by 19 October 2019, the government has obtained Parliament’s consent either to a withdrawal agreement or to a no-deal exit.
The prorogation of Parliament in the early hours of 10 September 2019 ended the 2017-19 parliamentary session and the next session will start with a Queen’s Speech on 14 October 2019. The government’s main legislative priority in the next session, if a new Brexit deal is forthcoming at the European Council meeting on 17-18 October 2019, will be to introduce a Withdrawal Agreement Bill and secure its passage before 31 October 2019. However, the lawfulness of the government’s decision to prorogue Parliament is currently being decided in the Supreme Court, with judgment expected later this week.
Supply of statutory audit services
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) intends to publish its market study report into the supply of statutory audit services in the UK no later than 8 October 2019. The report will set out its findings and the action (if any) which the CMA proposes to make in relation to the market study notice.
Good Work Plan proposals for families
In July 2019, the government published consultations on proposals to:
- Increase transparency around employers’ policies on flexible working and family-related leave and pay.
- Improve transparency of flexible working and family related leave.
- Introduce a new right to neonatal care leave and pay.
All three consultations close on 11 October 2019.
CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme
Businesses will be required to surrender allowances for the final time during October 2019, due to the abolition of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme at the end of the 2018-2019 compliance year.
Climate change summit
The UK government has announced that it has received international backing for Glasgow to host the 2020 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26). The UK, in partnership with Italy, is now officially backed by the group of countries responsible for nominating the 2020 host. The UK will host the main COP summit while Italy will host preparatory events and a significant youth event. The formal announcement will be made at the December 2019 COP25 in Chile.
Updated Audit Committee Guide
The QCA has published an updated version of its Audit Committee Guide. The Guide sets out the QCA’s views of best practice and is a companion to the QCA Corporate Governance Code. The sections of the Guide and changes to the 2014 version include:
- An effective audit committee.
- Roles and responsibilities.
- Risk management and internal control.
- Relationship with external auditors.
Electronic execution of documents
The Law Commission has published a report on the electronic execution of documents. The report includes a statement that sets out the high-level conclusions of the Law Commission on the law regarding the validity of electronic signatures.
Dispute resolution roadshow
Booking is now open for Practical Law Dispute Resolution’s 2019 Roadshow, which will be travelling to Birmingham (1 October), Leeds (3 October), Bristol (8 October) and London (10 October) in conjunction with Generate 2019, Thomson Reuters’ annual customer summit. Attendance is free.
Dates for your diary
1 October 2019
Deadline for Member states to complete a joint review of risks on cybersecurity of 5G networks.
2 October 2019
Closing date for government consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace.
8 October 2019
Deadline for call for views on the UK’s approach to cyber security certification after Brexit.
17 October 2019
Presentation of findings of the independent review of the Damages-Based Agreement Regulations 2013 due.