REUTERS | Ricardo Moraes

What’s on the agenda for in-house lawyers in August 2020?

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme come into effect from 1 August 2020, while two Brexit-related consultations close this month too. In-house lawyers will also need to consider the impact of the ECJ decision on the EU-US Privacy Shield.


From 1 August 2020, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to £2,500 a month under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. However, employers must pay employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) and employer pension contributions on furlough pay.

Shielding guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable in England will be paused altogether on 1 August 2020 and employees who had been shielding and cannot work from home, will be able to return to their workplaces.


Two Brexit-related consultations close on 13 August 2020:

  • UK Internal Market White Paper. This White Paper sets out the government’s proposals for seamless trade between the UK nations after the UK-EU transition comes to an end on 31 December 2020. At that point, powers in at least 70 policy areas currently exercised at an EU level will flow directly to the devolved administrations.
  • The departure from retained EU case law by UK courts and tribunals. This consultation outlines the government’s proposals to extend powers under section 6 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to courts less senior than the Supreme Court and the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland to be able to depart from retained EU case law after the end of the transition period.

EU-US Privacy Shield

In Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook Ireland and Maximillian Schrems (Case C-311/18), the European Court of Justice ruled that Commission Decision 2016/1250 on the adequacy of the protection provided by the EU-US Privacy Shield is invalid.

Following the judgment, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed that it is currently reviewing its Privacy Shield and Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) guidance. The ICO’s advice to organisations who are currently using the EU-US Privacy Shield framework for data transfers to the United States is to continue to do so until new ICO guidance becomes available.

Draft Finance Bill 2021 legislation

On 21 July 2020 HM Treasury and HMRC published draft legislation for the Finance Bill 2021. It includes several previously announced anti-avoidance measures, such as strengthened rules for promoters of avoidance schemes and changes to HMRC’s civil information powers. However, no announcements were made on employment status or the integration of income tax and NICs.

The consultation on the draft legislation closes, generally, on 15 September 2020 and the government will introduce the Finance Bill 2021 into Parliament following the Autumn 2020 Budget, the date of which has yet to be announced.

UK points-based immigration system

The government has published a statement setting out further details of its plans for a new UK points-based immigration system from 1 January 2021, once free movement with the EU has come to an end. It provides more detail for applicants, employers and educational institutions on the draft requirements and conditions underpinning the key immigration routes in the new points-based system. Further guidance and simplified Immigration Rules are expected later this year.

Climate change

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has published its 12th annual progress report under the Climate Change Act 2008. The CCC report highlights opportunities for reskilling the workforce and investment to deliver a net zero workforce and low carbon infrastructure, particularly for low carbon buildings, transport and energy.

The Chancery Lane Project brings legal professionals together to collaborate and write contract clauses and model laws to support communities and businesses in fighting climate change and achieving net zero carbon emissions. On 1 July 2020 it published the second edition of its Climate Contract Playbook and a Glossary of key climate terms. The second edition of the Playbook contains 13 new precedents that can be added to a variety of commercial, finance, corporate, employment and property documents to take account of climate risks.

Audit reform

On 6 July 2020, the FRC published its final principles for operational separation of the audit practices of the Big Four firms, which forms part of its strategy to improve the quality and effectiveness of corporate reporting and audit in the UK following the CMA, Kingman and Brydon reviews.

The Big Four firms are requested to agree to the operational separation of their audit practices on the basis outlined in the principles, and to submit an implementation plan to the FRC by 23 October 2020. The plan should ensure that each of the principles for operational separation is implemented as soon as practicable and by 30 June 2024 at the latest.

Key dates for your diary

2 August 2020

Closing date for the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity consultation on the first candidate cybersecurity certification scheme.

10 August 2020

Office of Tax Simplification call for evidence on capital gains tax closes.

11 August 2020

Deadline for feedback on the European Commission’s roadmap on a new consumer agenda.

13 August 2020

Closing date for feedback on the inception impact assessment on the revision of the NIS Directive.

20 August 2020

Deadline for responding to the House of Lords Constitution Committee call for evidence on the courts and tribunals response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

21 August 2020

Extended deadline for the government’s RPI reform consultation closes.

27 August 2020

HMRC consultation on the notification of uncertain tax treatment by large businesses closes.

28 August 2020

HMRC consultation on raising standards in the tax advice market closes.

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