By Sam Pearse
The UK Government has launched a Consultation regarding cryptoassets, focussing on whether unregulated cryptoassets should fall within the financial promotions regime, thereby affording protection for consumers. There is no immediate impact on cryptoasset businesses, but the regulatory landscape is changing.
The UK Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 sets out restrictions on the communication of invitations or inducements to engage in investment activity, such as investing in securities. In brief terms, only those persons who are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) may make such communications, or persons who are making a communication which as been authorised by an authorised person. Incidentally, the ‘approved communications’ exemption is also being reviewed by HM Treasury and our article about that can be found here.
At its core, the restriction on financial promotion is intended to protect consumers from being mis sold products, whether by virtue of being provided with insufficient information or by fraudulent activity or investing in immature or inadequate market infrastructures. Continue reading UK Government Consultation on the Promotion of Cryptoassets
By Natalie Stewart & Drew Salvest
HM Treasury has opened a consultation regarding a regulatory gateway for authorised firms approving the financial promotions of unauthorised firms. Responses to the consultation are sought by 25 October 2020 and the government is particularly interested in responses from authorised firms currently approving the promotions of unauthorised persons, retail consumers and unauthorised persons which communicate financial promotions. Unauthorised firms who rely on authorised persons to enable them to market products in the UK should consider approaching their usual approving firms to ensure any implementation of this consultation does not inhibit market access.
Financial promotions (“Promotions”) are restricted under Section 21 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (“FSMA”), pursuant to which a person must not, in the course of business, communicate an invitation or inducement to engage in investment activity unless the Promotion has been made or approved by an authorised person or it is exempt. Unauthorised firms often use authorised firms which are authorised to carry on a regulated financial services activity to approve their Promotions in order to comply with the regulations (the “Authorised Persons Approval Route”).
Authorised firms are not required to notify the Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”) once they have approved an unauthorised firm’s Promotion, nor does the FCA sign off on approved Promotions before they are communicated to consumers. As such, the FCA is only made aware of potential breaches of the relevant regulations. Continue reading HM Treasury Consultation on the regulatory framework for the approval of financial promotions
By Sam Pearse
As previously reported (see here), the UK Government launched the Future Fund on 20 May, with the intention of providing financial support to British start-ups. It has proved to be popular, with over £320m of convertible loans to 322 businesses having been approved.
One of the criteria for accessing the Future Fund was that the applicant had to be a UK-incorporated company or a group with a UK ultimate holding company. The UK Treasury has now elected to expand the programme to include certain overseas companies.
It is not uncommon for British start-up businesses to incorporate outside of the UK, or put a non-UK holding company in place, in order to be eligible for local funding programmes. For example, European businesses may incorporate in the US in order to be more attractive to investors in the US and being able to participate in US accelerator programmes. After all, the US seed and venture capital market has much deeper pockets than its European equivalents.
In order to address this, the British Business Bank has announced the expansion of the Future Fund in order to:
“accommodate businesses that contribute significantly to the UK economy, but do not have their parent company based in the UK because they participated in a non-UK based accelerator programme”.
Revised eligibility – overview
Continue reading COVID-19: Update To Future Fund Eligibility
By Nic Hart & Liam Hutton
The Flexible Furlough Scheme (FFS) commenced today July 1st 2020 and you can now submit claims for periods starting on or after 1 July.
GOV.UK published a news story this afternoon announcing this commencement.
As discussed in earlier mail outs the main premise of the FFS is to allow;
“businesses to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis and will be given the flexibility to decide the hours and shift patterns of their employees – with the government continuing to pay 80% of salaries for the hours they do not work.”
The FFS will remain open until the end of October 2020. Continue reading COVID-19: UK Gov Flexible Furlough Scheme – 1 July 2020 Update
By Nic Hart & Liam Hutton
The Advocate-General of the European Court of Justice has given the opinion in VL (Case C-16/19) that disability discrimination can be found by comparison between the treatment of one group of disabled employees and other disabled employees. Whilst Advocate General Opinions are not binding on the Court, they are commonly regarded as influential, and this Opinion has the potential to create a new basis for comparison in discrimination cases.
The case relates to an employer who paid a monthly allowance to those of its disabled employees who obtained and submitted a disability certificate as evidence of their disability. The issue of discrimination arose because only those who had not already obtained and submitted their certificate were eligible for the allowance.
The employer’s purpose for doing this was that by bringing about an increase in the number of disabled workers employed, the employer would be entitled to a reduction in its contribution to a disability fund.
In the Opinion, the Advocate General addresses whether this could be regarded as discriminatory for the purposes of the Employment Equality Framework Directive, and sheds some light on the applicability of the prohibition of discrimination to the conduct of an employer who treats two groups of disabled individuals differently on the basis of an apparently neutral criterion (in this instance, the date of submission of a disability certificate). Continue reading ECJ Advocate-General Opinion: Disability Discrimination Can Be Found By Comparison With The Treatment Of Other Disabled Employees
By Thomas Rainey
On 22 June 2020, the UK government proposed legislation to amend the Enterprise Act 2002 which would have the effect of expanding the circumstances in which the government would have the authority to review and/or block takeovers of UK companies by foreign entities.
Under the Enterprise Act 2002, the UK government is already empowered to intervene in takeover situations which they deem to be contrary to the public interest – such as relating to the fields of national and public security, media diversity and standards, and/or financial services’ stability.
The amendments now laid before parliament, will add to the above a fourth category of businesses key to the combating of public health emergencies, such as Coronavirus.
Protecting Vulnerable ‘Critical Healthcare Capabilities’
The UK government’s thinking is that, as a result of the economic disruption caused by the current pandemic, in the short-to-medium term some UK businesses may be particularly vulnerable to hostile approaches or distressed acquisitions. Continue reading COVID-19: UK Gov Tables Enhanced Foreign Takeover Restrictions
By Nic Hart
As advised, the Government Guidance for the new Flexible Furlough Scheme (FFS) was released on Friday evening – June 12th.
Accessibility to the new Guidance is not the most straightforward as the information is spread across the existing CJRS Guidance and three new pieces of Guidance. The Government has also produced a summary overview of the key changes to the CJRS and the timetable for the same.
The major changes to the existing scheme with effect from July 1st are:
- there will no longer be a minimum three-week period for furlough. Whilst there will not be a required minimum period to furlough employees, any claim made to the CJRS portal must be in respect of a minimum one week period regardless of how many days may have been worked in this one week period.
- Employers can no longer put in claims to the portal that cover more than one payroll period. All claims through the portal must start and end within the same calendar month.
- An employer cannot furlough any greater number of employees than have been furloughed previously – subject to the provisions of those returning from parental leave.
The key principles of FFS are clear. Continue reading New Guidance on the UK Gov Flexible Furlough Scheme – 12th June 2020
By Linda Crow
The new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill will introduce new provisions to protect a company from suppliers wishing to terminate supply contracts or invoking more draconian terms when the company is entering into certain insolvency procedures, a CVA, or a new restructuring plan or moratorium (as introduced by the Bill), (each an “Insolvency Procedure”).
The purpose behind the new provisions is to maximise the possibility of a company being rescued or being able to sell its business as a going concern by helping it to trade through an Insolvency Procedure.
Where a company (the customer) becomes subject to an Insolvency Procedure, the supplier will be prohibited from: Continue reading UK Corporate Insolvency & Governance Bill: Termination Clauses & Temporary COVID-19 Relief
By Nic Hart
Further to our earlier blog posts on this topic, please be reminded that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is closing to new entrants from 30 June 2020. You must furlough new entrants on or before 10th June.
From 1 July 2020, there will be a new flexible furlough scheme where furloughed employees will be able to return to work on a part-time basis. Full guidance has yet to be issued (proposed for 12 June 2020) but present Guidance has advised that only employees who started furlough on or before 10 June 2020 will be eligible for the new scheme.
The Government Guidance states;
“From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full 3-week period prior to 30 June”
Continue reading IMPORTANT COVID-19 UPDATE: UK Gov Furlough Scheme Cut Off -10th June
By Nic Hart
In the daily press conference on Friday May 29th 2020, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, announced further changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
In essence these are as follows:
- The CJRS will continue until October 2020.
- Flexi furlough will commence from July 1st 2020.
- Grants through the CJRS will be tapered from August 2020.
- The scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June.
This is commencing on July 1st 2020 -a month earlier than previously announced. Employers can decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return to work, so that they can decide on the best approach for them. Employers will be responsible for paying the employees’ wages while in work.
Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be published on 12th June 2020, but HMRC has provided some initial advice:
Any working hours arrangement that you agree with your employee must cover at least one week and be confirmed to the employee in writing. When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours, you will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week. You can choose to make claims for longer periods such as on monthly or two weekly cycles if you prefer. You will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked.
Continue reading COVID-19: UK Chancellor Announces Changes To Furlough Scheme – 29th May 2020