REUTERS | Maxim Shemetov

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

The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has confirmed that an Autumn Statement, rather than a “Medium-term Fiscal Plan”, will be delivered in November. This month, in-house lawyers should also keep track of the progress of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, and climate change and data protection developments.

Autumn Statement

On 26 October 2022, the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, confirmed that the “Medium-term Fiscal Plan”, planned for 31 October would be deferred until 17 November, and would instead be a full Autumn Statement accompanied by a forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Economic crime and corporate transparency

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons on 13 October. Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Bill provide for:

  • Reforms to Companies House, including new identity verification requirements for all new and existing registered company directors, People with Significant Control and those delivering documents to the Registrar, and increased investigation and enforcement powers for the Registrar.
  • Increased registration and transparency requirements for limited partnerships (including Scottish limited partnerships).
  • Amendments to the register of overseas entities to maintain consistency with changes to the Companies Act 2006.

The Bill is the second part of a legislative package to prevent the abuse of UK corporate structures and tackle economic crime. It has been sent to a Public Bill Committee for line-by-line examination, which is scheduled to report back by 29 November.

On 14 October, the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 (Commencement No. 4) Regulations 2022 were published, bringing into force the remaining provisions of Part 1 of the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 relating to the registration of overseas entities.

Climate change

BEIS has published a call for evidence on the independent review of the UK’s net zero target, which is led by Chris Skidmore MP. The terms of reference indicate that the review will consider how the UK can deliver net zero while:

  • Delivering maximum economic growth.
  • Supporting UK energy security and affordability.
  • Minimising costs to businesses and consumers.

The call for evidence closed on 27 October and Chris Skidmore is due to report back by the end of 2022. The FRC Lab recently published a report intended to assist companies preparing disclosures on net zero and other GHG emission reduction commitments.

Friends of the Earth has announced that the UK government has dropped its appeal against a July 2022 High Court ruling that its Net Zero Strategy is unlawful. The government will need to update the Net Zero Strategy to provide more information by March 2023, including how its policies will achieve the Climate Change Act 2008 targets.

On 19 October, the Advertising Standards Authority banned two adverts highlighting HSBC’s efforts to help businesses transition to net zero and its work in planting trees. The adverts breached the CAP Code because they misled consumers by not mentioning that HSBC also finances businesses that significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Data protection

Interserve has been fined £4.4 million following an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) into the cyber-attack that caused an extensive employee data breach. A phishing email opened by an employee of the outsourcing and construction firm enabled hackers to install malware on the employee’s workstation. Through this the hackers gained access to personal information of up to 113,000 employees.

Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for DCMS, has announced the government’s plan to replace the UK GDPR with a bespoke British data protection system. The government intends the new system to retain data adequacy for the UK but be more consumer-friendly, as well as simpler and clearer for businesses to navigate. This suggests that the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, awaiting second reading, will be further paused (and potentially withdrawn) while the government revisits its approach to UK data protection.

The government has confirmed that the UK and US have made significant progress towards concluding a new data adequacy agreement. A UK-US data adequacy agreement would allow personal data to be transferred securely and more freely from the UK to the US and remove the need to rely on alternative data transfer safeguarding mechanisms, such as standard contractual clauses, which the government views as too costly and time consuming.

Draft guidance on monitoring at work has been published by the ICO and is open for consultation until 11 January 2023. It covers key topics such as lawful basis for monitoring, transparency, fairness and accountability. It also provides guidance on security and retention, as well as specialist topics such as:

  • Covert monitoring.
  • Use of biometric data.
  • Call monitoring.
  • Dashcams.
  • Device activity.

Dates for your diary

3 November

Deadline for submitting views on the issues and on whether Ofcom should make a market investigation reference into cloud services.

4 November

Closing date for Law Commission consultation on its proposals for reform of digital assets.

9 November

London Stock Exchange amended standards regarding early notification period take effect.

18 November

Feedback on the European Commission’s proposal for a Cyber Resilience Act closes.

25 November

Call for evidence on emerging trends in hybrid and distance working ends.

Second reading in the House of Commons of the Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill scheduled. The Bill would require employers to allow employees to take time off from work for appointments for fertility treatment.

28 November

ESMA call for evidence on the implementation of certain provisions of the Shareholders Rights Directive closes.

29 November

Implementation of the Regulation on the free flow of non-personal data to be evaluated by this date.

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