REUTERS | Mike Segar

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

The Brexit transition period will end at 11.00 pm on 31 December 2020. In addition, England’s 28-day lockdown ends on 2 December 2020, and the majority of the upcoming changes to the immigration rules will take effect on 1 December 2020.


Brexit negotiations continued throughout November, but with no agreement in place, a no-deal Brexit remains possible. The transition period will end at 11.00 pm on 31 December 2020 and the government is urging businesses to take last-minute steps to prepare for the changes that will be necessary from 1 January 2021. A series of two-page letters have been sent to businesses in 11 industry and commerce sectors with short lists of last-minute actions they need to take, warning that failure to act may risk business operations being interrupted. The Parliamentary BEIS Committee has also issued a call for evidence ahead of a session on 9 December 2020 to review business preparedness for Brexit.


National restrictions in England will end on 2 December 2020, which means the “stay at home” order ends, and shops, gyms, personal care and the leisure sector can reopen. England will move back into a regional, tiered approach. Scotland and Wales both have their own, separate frameworks in place.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended until 31 March 2021. Employers will be able to claim 80% of employees’ wages, capped at £2,500 for hours not worked. Employers must pay the national insurance and employer pension contributions on employees’ furlough pay. The CJRS will apply to the whole of the UK equally and the government will review the level of employer contributions in January 2021. Employers do not need to have used the CJRS previously and can claim whether their business is open or closed, and employees can be fully or flexibly furloughed. The government also announced the extension, until 31 January 2021, of the:

  • UK Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
  • UK Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).
  • Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).
  • Future Fund.


A statement of changes to the immigration rules that sets out the full details of the new UK immigration system has been published by the government. Most of the changes take effect from 1 December 2020. The main changes include replacing Tier 2 (General) with the new Skilled Worker route. To qualify under the new category, applicants must have received a confirmed job offer for a specific job, which meets minimum skill and salary requirements, by an employer that is registered as a licensed sponsor with the Home Office.

Data protection

The European Commission has published the long-awaited standard contractual clauses for the transfer of personal data to third countries under the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (GDPR). The draft implementing decision and Annex are open for feedback until 10 December 2020.

Two more large fines have been imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office for serious data breaches:

  • Marriott International Inc was fined £18.4 million for processing personal data without adequate security measures in place, after 339 million guest records worldwide were exposed to a 2014 cyber-attack on Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc’s reservation database.
  • Ticketmaster UK Ltd was fined £1.25 million for failing to protect customer payment details. The data breach included names, payment card numbers, expiry dates and CVV numbers, and potentially affected 9.4 million of Ticketmaster’s customers across Europe, including 1.5 million in the UK.

National Security and Investment Bill

The National Security and Investment Bill 2019-21 has been given its first reading in the House of Commons. The Bill will establish a new statutory regime for government scrutiny of, and intervention in, investments for the purposes of protecting national security. The government has published a consultation on proposed draft definitions of 17 sensitive sectors in which it will be mandatory to notify and gain approval for certain types of transactions, covering, for example:

  • Energy.
  • Telecommunications.
  • Artificial intelligence.
  • Defence.

The government invites comments on these definitions by 6 January 2021.

Climate change

The UK government’s Task force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) has published an interim report and a roadmap on mandatory climate-related disclosures in line with the recommendations of the TCFD. The TCFD anticipates that a significant number of the mandatory requirements will be in place by 2023. The government intends to make it mandatory for large companies and financial institutions to make climate-related disclosures aligned with the recommendations of the TCFD by 2025.

Key dates for your diary

2 December 2020

4 December 2020

18 December 2020

Deadline for responding to Civil Justice Council review of pre-action protocols.

21 December 2020

Proposed Regulation (COM(2020) 568 final) creating a temporary derogation from the applicability of Articles 5(1) and 6 of the E-Privacy Directive to be implemented in the EU by this date.

22 December 2020

Government consultation on banning online adverts for products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) in the UK ends.

30 December 2020

Extension to Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 provisions relating to company meetings ends.

31 December 2020

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