REUTERS | An aerial view of tulip fields near the city of Creil, Netherlands April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

300 members of the International Compliance Association (ICA) were surveyed in September 2020 about their experience of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workforce. Their responses exposed some sobering statistics including that four in ten compliance professionals have experienced discrimination at work. However, the survey also recorded promising signs of progress in advancing D&I.

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REUTERS | Mark Blinch

Since the winter agenda, the UK and EU formally exited the transition period on 31 December 2020, the UK GDPR entered force in the UK, and the EU GDPR regime is now a separate and parallel system. Businesses that are involved in processing activity in both the UK and the EU need to be compliant with both regimes. Continue reading

REUTERS | A bee searches for pollen among cherry blossoms on a sunny spring day in Lausanne, Switzerland March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Lockdown restrictions are expected to be eased in England from 12 April 2021. Restart Grants will be available in England from 1 April and, from 6 April, the Recovery Loan Scheme will open to all UK businesses and most changes to the Immigration Rules will come into force.

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REUTERS | Phil Noble

At the start of the month, The Centre for Legal Leadership hosted the first of a series of webinars in conjunction with Practical Law on ethics and the in-house lawyer. Here is a summary of the key themes that were discussed at the event.

What are legal ethics?

In the “standard conception of legal ethics”, lawyers are:

  • Neutral to their clients’ behaviour and merely take instructions.
  • Partisan and think about what is best for their client.
  • Unaccountable for their clients’ actions.

Working in-house changes this dynamic somewhat as lawyers are closer to the culture and values of their organisation than external counsel.

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REUTERS | Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Companies are constantly being challenged to review their existing operating models and improve the processes and technology that support them. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the related explosion in remote working, has fuelled the need for innovative solutions that can radically improve the efficiency and security of those models.

Contract management is one such case. The emergence of distributed ledger technology (blockchain), as well as significantly improved e-signature platforms and multi-party digital web-browsers, has made the document execution elements of contract management more efficient and flexible than ever before. When different technologies are adopted collaboratively, important legal contract requirements, such as authorised signing and witness signatures, can be met quickly and securely.

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REUTERS | Henry Romero

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way that we work and accelerated changes that might previously have taken ten years. Leaders are being challenged to adapt at the same pace, and the consequences of failure are significant. For example:

  • Top performers leave.
  • Staff burn out.
  • Claims of harassment and bullying increase.

These outcomes will contribute to lower employee engagement, be obvious to clients and show up in financial performance. It is not possible to revert to business as usual. To succeed, leaders must remove limits on their thinking and look to the future. We believe the way forward should focus on inclusive leadership.

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REUTERS | Global Creative Services (no copyright)

Why is UK adequacy relevant for the UK post-Brexit?

As the Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC) did 20 years earlier, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679) (EU GDPR) sets a severe restriction in the context of today’s increasingly interconnected and digitally borderless world. Transfers of personal data to a so-called “third country”, that is any country outside the European Economic Area (EEA), are only allowed subject to certain conditions, namely:

  • The third country ensures an adequate level of protection for the personal data as determined by the European Commission (EC);
  • In the absence of that adequate level of protection, the provision of appropriate safeguards (like Standard Contractual Clauses or Binding Corporate Rules (BCRs)); or
  • In the absence of the foregoing, the international transfer of personal data fits within one of the derogations for specific situations covered by the EU GDPR.

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REUTERS | A man carrying an umbrella walks across the Old Town Square during a rainstorm in Prague, May 30, 2013. REUTERS/David W Cerny

“Culture” is defined as the ideas, customs and social behaviours of a particular people or society. In organisations, culture encompasses the ideas, customs and beliefs that shape how people work together. Culture is made by people and is a defining factor in determining if they stay and, ultimately, what kind of talent you can attract.

The best cultures have a high degree of safety but safe here does not mean boring! It means an environment where individuals can be themselves and bring their whole range of thinking and creativity to work. Organisations with strong cultures are more innovative and better able to cope with adversity because they have the best talent.

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REUTERS | An aerial view of tulip fields near the city of Creil, Netherlands April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

In conjunction with Practical Law, The Centre for Legal Leadership is hosting a series of webinars throughout 2021 aimed at in-house lawyers.

Making ethical calls when advising your organisation

Date: 3 March 2021 (2:00pm-3:30pm)

In-house lawyers are subject to the ethical requirements of their professional bodies and their roles will often take them into areas that cover legal compliance and, increasingly, business ethics. This can highlight important issues relating to the purpose and independence of the in-house lawyer.

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REUTERS | People run past Tower Bridge in the early morning autumnal sunshine, in London, Britain, October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson - RC129ACEEA00

As usual around this time of year, the Practical Law Commercial team have been looking back and asking ourselves what has changed in contract law and drafting? Specifically, what developments in 2020 affect commercial lawyers as they manage existing contracts or draft new ones? We agreed that 2020 was full of changes in practice, even where the letter of the law hasn’t (yet) changed (much).

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