REUTERS | David Mdzinarishvili

What’s on the agenda for in-house lawyers in September 2023?

In September, the FRC consultation on proposed revisions to the UK Corporate Governance Code closes and the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) is expected to publish its final disclosure framework. In-house lawyers should also take note of the launch of a consultation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on its draft guidance on biometric data.

Corporate governance and reporting

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) has published guidance on the government’s framework to create UK Sustainability Disclosure Standards. This provides that the UK Sustainability Disclosure Standards will be based on the IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards issued by the International Sustainability Standards Board and will set out corporate disclosures on the sustainability related risks and opportunities that companies face. The standards will form the basis of future legislative or regulatory requirements for corporate sustainability reporting.

The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) has published an exposure draft of its proposed International Standard on Sustainability Assurance Engagements. The proposed standard is aimed at enhancing the trust and confidence investors, regulators and other stakeholders have in sustainability information. The IAASB requests comments by 1 December 2023.

Register of overseas entities

The DBT has published updated guidance for the registration of overseas entities on the register of overseas entities. The updated guidance provides further information in several areas including, among others, the:

  • Identification of foreign limited partners as beneficial owners.
  • Removal of inaccurate information from the register.
  • Registration of otherwise prohibited land transactions.

Data protection

The ICO has published the first phase of its guidance on biometric data and biometric technologies for consultation. The draft guidance covers topics such as:

  • Key data protection concepts.
  • Biometric recognition.
  • Carrying out data protection impact assessments.

It is aimed at organisations that use or are considering using biometric recognition systems and is for both controllers and processors, including system vendors. The consultation runs until 20 October.

Digitisation of shareholdings

The Digitisation Taskforce has published its interim report regarding reforms to the UK’s shareholding framework. The interim report sets out the following potential recommendations:

  • Legislation and amendments to company articles of association should be made as soon as practicable to stop the issuance of new paper share certificates.
  • Legislation should be made to require dematerialisation of all share certificates at a future date, to be determined as soon as possible.
  • The government should consult on the preferred approach to residual paper share interests and whether a time limit should be imposed for the identification of untraced ultimate beneficial owners.

Feedback on the interim report should be sent by 25 September.

Competition: horizontal agreements

The Competition and Markets Authority has published the final version of its guidance on the application of the Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 to horizontal agreements. The guidance is relevant to both existing and new horizontal agreements and replaces the European Commission’s guidance on horizontal co-operation agreements. It explains the application of the horizontal block exemptions set out in the Competition Act 1998 (Specialisation Agreements Block Exemption) Order 2022 (SI 2022/1272) and the Competition Act 1998 (Research & Development Agreements Block Exemption) Order 2022 (SI 2022/ 1271), which entered into force on 1 January.

Employment: non-disclosure agreements

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published a report following its review into the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in workplace complaints. The SRA specifically reviewed compliance by solicitors with its warning notice on the appropriate use of NDAs. The SRA found that most NDAs reviewed complied with the warning notice. However, only 64% of fee-earners were aware of the warning notice, knowledge of the issues it covered was fairly low and there was little evidence of ongoing NDA-specific training. There was a fundamental imbalance of power in how NDAs were drafted, with employers dictating the terms of any agreement, setting short time limits and offering minimal contributions to legal fees.

Product safety

The government and Office for Product Safety and Standards have published a consultation soliciting views on proposals to overhaul the UK product safety regime. The focus of the consultation is on easing the regulatory burden on business, and encouraging innovation, while continuing to ensure consumer protection from unsafe products. The consultation remains open until 24 October.

Dates for your diary

The TNFD is expected to publish its final disclosure framework in September.

1 September

The European Commission’s revised Simplified Procedure Notice, Implementing Regulation and merger notification forms to simplify merger procedures come into force.

5 September

Deadline for responses to House of Lords inquiry on large language models.

6 September

Acas consultation on a new draft Code of Practice on handling flexible working requests closes.

Deadline for the European Commission to designate gatekeepers under the Digital Markets Act.

7 September

Deadline for responding to the Ministry of Justice’s call for evidence on open justice.

8 September

A consultation into the Labour Market Enforcement Strategy for 2024 to 2025 closes.

Deadline for responding to the Ministry of Justice’s views on issues raised by stakeholders regarding extension of fixed recoverable costs.

13 September

FRC consultation on proposed revisions to the UK Corporate Governance Code closes.

18 September

The third reading in the House of Lords of the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill 2022-23 is scheduled to take place.

29 September

Deadline for responses to the FCA’s engagement papers on the UK prospectus regime.

30 September

The Economic crime levy is payable from this date.

Regulation 3 of the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) Regulations enters into force.


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