REUTERS | Mark Blinch

What’s on the agenda for in-house lawyers in April 2023?

Diversity on boards is a key theme this month due to the recent publication of reports by the FTSE Women Leaders Review and the Parker Review Committee. Developments in the electronic execution of documents and UK Immigration Rules are also noteworthy.

Spring 2023 Budget

On 21 March 2023, the Spring 2023 Budget resolutions were passed and the Finance (No 2) Bill 2023 received its first reading. Practical Law has published a Spring 2023 Budget toolkit, which includes links to legal updates on the individual measures announced in the Chancellor’s speech.

Diversity on boards

At the end of February, the FTSE Women Leaders Review published a report on gender balance in FTSE leadership. The report states that, as at 11 January 2023:

  • Women held 40.5% of FTSE 100 board positions (up from 39.1% in 2021), but seven FTSE 100 companies had not yet achieved the 33% target.
  • Women held 40% of FTSE 250 board positions (up from 37%), but 24 FTSE 250 companies had not yet achieved the 33% target.
  • Across the FTSE 350, there were only 55 women chairs (19 in the FTSE 100), 130 women SIDs (37 in the FTSE 100) and 21 women CEOs (9 in the FTSE 100).

This year the review included 50 of the largest private companies in the UK, of which six did not submit data. It found that the representation of women on those boards was on average 32% and there were 19 boards that were either all-male or had only one woman.

In early March the Parker Review Committee published its 2023 update report setting out the 2022 voluntary census results of FTSE 350 companies on the ethnic diversity of their boards and outlining new targets. The report indicates that, as at 31 December 2022, 96 FTSE 100 companies met the Parker Review target, with at least one minority ethnic director on their boards.

Electronic execution

The Industry Working Group on Electronic Execution of Documents has published their final report, which considers the challenges arising from the use of electronic signatures in cross-border transactions and how best to optimise their benefits when set against the risk of fraud. The report also sets out the Group’s further recommendations for reform, which include:

  • Recommendations for enhanced certification and self-certification.
  • A uniformity of approach to electronic signing and online identification.
  • The establishment of a permanent body to focus on issues relating to electronic execution going forward.

Changes to UK Immigration Rules

The UK government has published a statement of changes to the Immigration Rules, with most changes being implemented on 12 April. Among other things, the statement replaces the Innovator and Start-up routes with a new Innovator Founder route, and increases the minimum salary requirements to sponsor a worker in the UK under the Skilled Worker and Global Business Mobility routes.

Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill

Practical Law has published Practice note, Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill: overview. The Bill entered the Committee stage in the House of Lords on 27 March.

Climate change

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has published a consultation on its proposals for a future climate change agreement (CCA) scheme. The consultation closes on 10 May. The government confirmed in the Spring Budget that the current CCA scheme will be extended until 31 March 2027.

The CMA has published for consultation draft guidance on the application of the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 to environmental sustainability agreements between actual or potential competitors. This guidance discusses environmental sustainability agreements that are unlikely to infringe the Chapter I prohibition and those which could infringe the Chapter I prohibition. The CMA invites comments on the draft guidance by 11 April.

Data Protection and Digital Information Bill

A revised version of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill has been introduced to Parliament by Michelle Donelan, the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology. The Bill was first introduced into Parliament in July 2022 and its progress had been placed on hold by the government to allow further consultation on the Bill’s proposed terms with businesses and other data privacy stakeholders. Practical Law has published an article on UK data protection reform.

Dates for your diary

1 April

2 April

Increases to statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and parental bereavement pay come into effect.

4 April

Deadline for responses to the consultation on revised EPO guidelines.

6 April

15 April

The Copyright and Performances (Application to Other Countries) (Amendment) Order 2023 comes into force.

18 April

The consultation on the draft Code of Practice on dismissal and re-engagement ends.

25 April

Consultation on product categories under proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation closes.

25-26 April

Independent Workers Union of Great Britain v Central Arbitration Committee and another due to be heard by the Supreme Court. This case concerns employment status and the gig economy.

28 April

30 April

FRC requests comments on FRS 102 draft amendments.

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