REUTERS | Dominic Ebenbichler

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

COVID-19 will continue to be at the top of the agenda in October. The reintroduction of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus is expected to hit businesses in the hospitality sector particularly hard and there is no guarantee that further controls will be not be imposed in the future. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 31 October 2020 and will be succeeded by the Job Support Scheme from 1 November 2020.


Due to an increase in the number of daily cases of COVID-19, the government has introduced further measures imposing restrictions on businesses, which will hit those operating in the hospitality sector particularly hard. For example:

  • Regulations requiring hospitality businesses to enforce the “rule of 6” on their premises.
  • Regulations requiring hospitality and other venues to close by 10pm.
  • Expanding face covering requirements to include staff in most venues and customers in eateries.

From 1 October 2020, the government will pay 60% of wages up to £1,875 a month under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). To make up the 80% total (subject to the £2,500 cap), employers must pay 20% of wages plus employer NICs and employer pension contributions. The CJRS ends on 31 October 2020.

The Chancellor has announced a successor to the CJRS, the Job Support Scheme, to assist those employers facing lower demand over the winter months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme will run for six months from 1 November 2020. An employee will need to work and be paid for at least one-third of their normal hours (33%). For the employee’s remaining hours (67%), one-third (22%) is paid by the employer and one-third (22%) is paid by government.

Regulations have been published that, among other things, extend temporary provisions in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020, which allow company AGMs to be held electronically from 30 September 2020 to 30 December 2020.


The ninth round of negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship will take place from 29 September to 2 October 2020. Following the previous round of negotiations, the UK government and the European Commission issued statements indicating that significant differences remain in areas such as state aid and other level playing field matters, fisheries and dispute settlement. The day before those discussions began, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a statement in which he said that there needs to be an agreement by the time of the European Council meeting of 15 October 2020, if it is to be in force by the end of 2020.

Tensions between both parties were exacerbated by the introduction of the controversial United Kingdom Internal Market Bill. The Bill seeks to prevent the emergence of regulatory divergence and barriers to trade within the UK domestic market when the powers to regulate trade between the four UK home nations, which are currently exercised at an EU level, flow back to the UK government and the devolved administrations on 1 January 2021.

After an extraordinary meeting of the joint UK-EU committee, the European Commission issued a statement calling on the UK government to withdraw, by the end of September 2020, parts of the draft Bill that would breach the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the EU-UK withdrawal agreement. The government subsequently published a statement on its legal position confirming that Parliament is sovereign as a matter of domestic law and can pass legislation which is in breach of the UK’s treaty obligations. The report stage of the Bill is scheduled for 28 and 29 September 2020.

Immigration rules

The government has published Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC707, which introduces new immigration routes to the UK for international students. The changes to the requirements for students are not substantial overall, but they are the first routes to be simplified in line with the Law Commission’s recommendations and give an indication of what the new immigration rules will look like.

Climate change

A consultation on climate risk and improving governance and reporting by occupational pension schemes has been published by the Department for Work and Pensions. The proposals will require large occupational pension schemes with £5 billion or more in assets, all authorised master trusts and authorised collective money purchase schemes to put in place effective governance, strategy, risk management, and accompanying metrics and targets for the assessment and management of climate risks and opportunities, from 1 October 2021. The consultation closes on 7 October 2020.

Thomson Reuters is sponsoring The Chancery Lane Project’s (TCLP) second pro bono legal hackathon, which comprises activities throughout October, November and December 2020. TCLP brings legal professionals together to develop contracts and model laws to help fight climate change and achieve net zero carbon emissions.

Key dates for your diary

1 October 2020

2 October 2020

10 October 2020

Companies House to resume compulsory strike off policy.

11 October 2020

Regulation on screening of foreign direct investment becomes applicable.

14 October 2020

HM Treasury consultation on the Economic Crime Levy concludes.

16 October 2020

MoJ consultation on Judicial Mandatory Retirement Age closes.

19 October 2020

22 October 2020

31 October 2020

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