Several Bills included in the Queen’s Speech are likely to be of significance to in-house lawyers. They may also be interested in a bribery case brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and recent developments in narrative reporting.
The Queen’s Speech
On 10 May 2022 the Queen’s Speech was delivered, setting out the government’s proposed policies and legislation for the current parliamentary session:
- The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill will, among other things, strengthen powers to tackle illicit finance and reduce economic crime.
- The Modern Slavery Bill will strengthen the requirements on businesses with a turnover of £36 million or more to publish an annual statement detailing the steps taken to prevent modern slavery in their supply chains.
- The Data Reform Bill is intended to ease the burden of compliance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and UK GDPR, enable data to be shared more efficiently and update the enforcement powers and accountability of the Information Commissioner’s Office.
- The Brexit Freedoms Bill will create new powers to strengthen the ability to amend, repeal or replace retained EU law without the need for primary legislation, while also “removing the supremacy of retained EU law as it still applies in the UK”.
Bribery and corruption
The SFO has charged Glencore Energy (UK) Ltd (Glencore) with seven counts of bribery. Glencore has indicated that it will plead guilty to all charges. The SFO’s investigation opened in June 2019 and concerned bribery and corruption across Glencore’s oil operations in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South Sudan. The SFO allege that Glencore agents and employees paid bribes worth over $25 million for preferential access to oil, with the approval of the company.
On 20 May, the Department for International Trade published Bribery and corruption in trade: reducing the risk, guidance which will help companies prove that their business and supply chain is free from bribery and corruption, including available training and what records to keep.
There have been several recent developments in relation to narrative reporting:
- The 30% Club UK Investor Group published guidance for companies reporting on diversity.
- The FRC published the findings of a review of reporting on modern slavery by listed companies in the UK.
- The FRC Lab published guidance for companies to consider in preparing their reporting on supply chains.
- The FCA published the final instrument to implement its changes to UK Transparency Directive European Single Electronic Format Regulation to allow companies to use a more up-to-date electronic format for their annual financial reports.
HM Treasury launched the independent UK Transition Plan Taskforce (TPT) at the end of April. The TPT aims to develop a gold standard for climate transition plans (also known as net zero transition plans) that certain financial institutions and listed companies will be expected to publish in 2023. The TPT subsequently published a call for evidence on its proposed sector-neutral framework for private sector transition plans. Responses should be received by 13 July.
BEIS has published a call for evidence on updating the government’s Green Finance Strategy. The closing date is 22 June and the updated Green Finance Strategy will be published in late 2022.
On 27 April, Practical Law presented a webinar, Recent Russia Sanctions and Related Considerations: How Practical Law Supports In-House Counsel. The panellists provided a summary of the key economic and trade sanctions and export controls imposed on Russia and Belarus by the US and the UK in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting crisis. You can download the recorded webinar here. (Please note that the recording may take a few minutes to download.)
On 26 May, the FCA published a discussion paper setting out its response to feedback received regarding the structure of the listing regime and seeking further views on the UK listing regime. Comments should be received by 28 July.
Dates for your diary
- Government consultation on Online Advertising Programme closes.
- European Commission’s new vertical agreements block exemption regulation and Guidelines on vertical restraints come into force.
- Competition Act 1998 (Vertical Agreements Block Exemption) Order 2022 comes into force.
Deadline for responses to European Commission consultation on proposed simplification measures regarding merger procedures.
- From this date, agreements will be subject to the transparency obligation in Article 19 of the Digital Copyright Directive.
- Deadline to respond to the consultation on the proposed Harbours (Seafarers’ Remuneration) Bill.
Digital Regulation Co-operation Forum discussion papers on algorithmic processing and algorithmic auditing close for comments.
Changes to Rules 4.2 and 38.2 of the Takeover Code take effect.
Government response to the disability workforce reporting consultation due.
European Commission call for evidence on revision of Informal Guidance Notice closes.
Consultation on UK-Switzerland trade relationship closes.
- FCA removes temporary COVID-19 measures.
- London Stock Exchange temporary measures for reporting deadlines in relation to the publication of audited annual results and half-yearly reports are no longer available from this date.
Deadline for responses to UK government’s call for views on improving security and privacy of apps and app stores.