The ruling propels UK law enforcement to increase its investigative powers under POCA, and businesses to enhance their supply chain due diligence.

By Paul A. Davies, Clare Nida, Pamela Reddy, Michael D. Green, James Bee, Annie Birch, and Esha Marwaha

On 27 June 2024, the UK Court of Appeal found that the National Crime Agency’s (NCA’s) decision not to launch an investigation into the importation of cotton products originating from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous

The consultation paper confirms a radical approach to bolster the international competitiveness of the UK markets and return to a disclosure-based listing framework.

By Mark Austin, Chris Horton, James Inness, Anna Ngo, and Johannes Poon

The FCA today published consultation paper CP23/31 setting out detailed draft rules for the new UK listing regime. The publication represents the final stage of the journey to reshape the UK Listing Rules which started with the launch of Lord Hill’s UK Listings Review in 2020. Most of the key changes reflect proposals in the FCA’s preceding consultation paper CP23/10 published in May 2023 (see this Latham Client Alert for further details).

The Arbitration Bill’s changes clarify important aspects of English arbitral law, reinforcing London’s position as a leader in international arbitration.

By Charles Rae

On 21 November 2023, the UK government unveiled its long-awaited plans to update and modernise the legal framework applicable to arbitrations in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland through amendments to the Arbitration Act 1996. In line with the recommendations of the Law Commission in its September 2023 report (a summary of which can be found in Latham’s previous Client Alert), the government has opted for targeted reform over root-and-branch changes, focusing on clarifying a number of important aspects of arbitral law which have become contentious in recent years. The result is a suite of practical revisions (the Arbitration Bill 2023) that will provide greater certainty to parties and help maintain the UK’s position as a leading destination for international arbitration.

The FRC’s future work will be assessed through the lens of the UK’s economic growth and international competitiveness.

By Mark Austin, Chris Horton, James Inness, Anna Ngo, and Johannes Poon

On 7 November 2023, the FRC announced a significant and wide-ranging policy update which included a material change of direction in relation to how it will approach its work in the future and a significant recalibration of how it will take forward its consultation on proposed changes to the UK Corporate Governance Code. That consultation, which ran from 24 May 2023 to 13 September 2023, sought to implement certain proposals in the UK government’s paper, “Restoring trust in audit and corporate governance”. The vast majority of those proposals will no longer be taken forward.

Individuals continue to face risk from prosecutions for economic crime, despite media focus on corporate criminal liability reforms.

By Stuart Alford KC, Mair Williams, and Matthew Unsworth

Four individuals have today appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court charged with fraud in connection with the collapse of UK café and bakery chain, Patisserie Valerie.[i] This follows a five-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) — codenamed “Operation Venom” — which was launched after the chain suddenly announced that its financial statements over successive years had been “mis-stated and subject to fraudulent activity”.[ii] Among those charged is former CFO, Christopher Marsh, who was arrested on suspicion of fraud when the scandal first emerged but was released on bail soon after.

While corporate criminal liability continues to dominate headlines ahead of reforms to be introduced by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, the Patisserie Valerie charges serve as a reminder that there remains a risk of prosecution at the individual level. Indeed, this is the third case in which the SFO has charged individuals this year, and the agency is targeting a minimum 60% conviction rate of individual (as well as corporate) defendants between 2022 and 2025.[iii]

The proposals would give the Bank of England wide-ranging powers to deal with acute failure scenarios, treating policyholder liabilities as loss-absorbing.

By Victoria Sander and Tim Scott

HM Treasury is proposing a new UK resolution regime for insurers that would appoint the Bank of England as resolution authority with sweeping powers to resolve insurers through transfer or bail-in, and to make resolution plans and assess resolvability in advance. The regime would share many similarities with the Banking Act 2009 (BA09).

FSMA 2023 includes a court procedure for failing insurers to temporarily write-down liabilities, with implications for counterparties.

By Victoria Sander and Tim Scott

The recently passed Financial Services and Markets Act 2023 (FSMA 2023) provides for a new write-down procedure under which failing insurers can apply to court to have their insurance liabilities written down. Write-downs are intended to be temporary (though no period is specified), followed by a subsequent write-up, which is a transfer of the business or application

A new publication from the UK’s financial regulator signals to firms that they should take steps to manage risks in the use of AI.

By Stuart Davis, Fiona M. Maclean, Gabriel Lakeman, and Imaan Nazir

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published its latest board minutes highlighting its increasing focus on artificial intelligence (AI), in which it “raised the question of how one could ‘foresee harm’ (under the new Consumer Duty), and also give customers appropriate disclosure, in the context of the operation of AI”. This publication indicates that AI continues to be a key area of attention within the FCA. It also demonstrates that the FCA believes its existing powers and rules already impose substantive requirements on regulated firms considering deploying AI in their services.

The UK government has signalled the importance of introducing a permanent superfund regulatory regime.

By Victoria Sander

After the excitement around Clara-Pensions’ approval as a “superfund”, or pension consolidator, in late 2021, the market generally expected that other pension superfund structures would soon follow suit. Last year’s mini-budget and the ensuing liability-driven investment (LDI) crisis, which triggered intervention by the Bank of England, no doubt weighed negatively on the development of the pension consolidation market, along with an increased focus on investment strategies for pension schemes generally. The expected pipeline of further approvals failed to deliver new participants in a market which was to provide much-needed de-risking capacity alongside the burgeoning and highly successful insurance bulk annuity transfer market.

Hopes were revived by the Chancellor’s Mansion House speech on 10 July 2023, which commented on the fragmentation of the defined benefit (DB) pension scheme landscape in the UK and the importance of introducing a permanent superfund regulatory regime, presenting a key policy direction by the government.

On 10 August 2023, the Pensions Regulator (TPR) announced revised guidelines for pension superfunds. The original guidance, issued in 2020, established an interim regime for superfunds and set out tests for when a pension scheme would be appropriate to transition to a superfund.

This blog post examines the updated pension superfund guidance and provides a high level overview of the key changes.