What’s on the agenda for in-house lawyers in January 2022?

COVID-19 returned to the top of the business agenda this month, with the possibility of further restrictions on commercial activity in January. In-house lawyers should also take note of two significant fines for anti-money laundering failings and a large fine for a data breach.


England has moved to Plan B of the COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 in response to the Omicron variant. From 10 December 2021, face coverings became compulsory in most public indoor venues, including cinemas, theatres and places of worship, but excluding hospitality. A work from home where possible recommendation has applied in England since 13 December (which follows the introduction of similar measures in Wales and Scotland). The NHS COVID pass became mandatory in specified settings, including nightclubs, on 15 December.

Significant fines for anti-money laundering failings

In its first successful criminal prosecution under money laundering regulations, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined National Westminster Bank plc (NatWest) £264,772,619.95. Southwark Crown Court heard that a criminal gang deposited hundreds of millions of pounds in cash at around 50 branches of NatWest with one branch receiving more than £40 million. In a similar case, the FCA fined HSBC Bank plc £63,946,800 for failings in its anti-money laundering processes.

Data protection fines

The Information Commissioner’s Office has fined the Cabinet Office £500,000 for failing to implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to keep personal data secure, in erroneously posting the full postal addresses of individual 2020 New Year’s Honours recipients online. Following a full incident review, the Cabinet Office ensured that measures to improve the security of its systems were introduced, and an independent review on data handling was completed in 2020.

EU Taxonomy Regulation

The EU Taxonomy Regulation ((EU) 2020/852) will provide businesses and investors with a common language to identify to what degree economic activities can be considered environmentally sustainable (or “green”). It sets criteria for determining whether an economic activity is environmentally sustainable, as well as introducing new disclosure requirements for certain financial services firms and large public interest entities. The Taxonomy Regulation is part of the European Commission’s package of reforms relating to sustainable finance. Two further delegated regulations come into force on 1 January 2022:

  • Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2139 (known as the Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act), which contains a set of technical screening criteria that define which activities contribute to environmental objectives contained in the Taxonomy Regulation.
  • Commission Delegated Regulation ((EU) 2021/2178) supplementing Article 8 of the Taxonomy Regulation by specifying the content and presentation of information to be disclosed by undertakings subject to Articles 19a or 29a of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (2014/95/EU) concerning environmentally sustainable economic activities and the methodology to comply with that disclosure obligation.

Courts Electronic Filing System (CE-File)

Operational and technical IT issues concerning the listing function have necessitated the revision of the Court of Appeal implementation dates for use of CE-File. Revised dates of 10 January for optional use of CE-File and 14 February for mandatory use by professional users have been agreed with the Master of the Rolls, other members of the judiciary and HMCTS’s Senior Operations Manager.

Non-executive directors (NEDs)

The High Court has found the non-executive chair of a private company unfit for the purpose of section 6 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 and disqualified him for four years. Prior to his appointment as a director of this company he had enjoyed a long and distinguished career in management. This decision will be of interest to all NEDs. It is a stark reminder of the difference between knowing what one’s duties are and doing enough to discharge them.

Dates for your diary

1 January

4 January

National Security and Investment Act 2021 comes into force.

6 January

HMCTS webinar on use of CE-File in the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) today.

7 January

IPO consultation on changes to patent and copyright law to accommodate artificial intelligence (AI) closes.

10 January

11 January

HMCTS webinar on use of CE-File in the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) today.

14 January

Government consultation on trade negotiations with Gulf Cooperation Council ends.

The following private members Bills are due to receive their second reading in the House of Commons:

  • Workers (Rights) (No. 2) Bill.
  • Tips Bill.
  • Health and Safety at Work Bill.

17 January

Deadline for Justice Committee call for evidence on the prosecution of fraud.

19 or 20 January

Angard Staffing Solutions Ltd v Kocur and others, a case on agency workers, is due to be heard.

31 January

Deadline for the UK government to amend exemption in paragraph 4 of Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Data Protection Act 2018.

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