Time does not pass? On January 1, 2021, Israel became the first country to vaccinate at least 10% of its population against covid-19; and entered into force the African Continental Free Trade Area, the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the key provisions of the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 and the Civil Code of the PRC – arguably the most comprehensive legislative document in China to date. While some of these events may seem like a distant memory, covid-19, commerce, global cooperation, data privacy, and human rights all remained major topics of interest throughout the year. Here we highlight some of the most frequently discussed questions about lexology in 2021.
- Crisis management: the EU whistleblower directive – covering all companies with 250 or more employees – has been transposed into local law in some of the 27 EU member states, but not all. We expect it to remain a hot topic until 2022 as employers decide which topics to cover and with what consistency in their European and global operations, with whistleblower protection reform also being considered or carried out. from New York to Hong Kong.
- Control of companies and mergers: the craze for PSPCs has sparked much debate this year, with hundreds of PSPCs still looking for an acquisition target, related litigation on the rise, growing interest in non-US targets, possible liberalization listing regimes in Asia and Europe; and competition for incorporation work between onshore and offshore jurisdictions. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has stepped up its merger review, as the FTC resumes its practice of requiring parties subject to an FTC order to obtain pre-approval for transactions affecting relevant markets for which violations have been alleged.
- Data protection: major data protection laws have continued to proliferate globally, from China to Saudi Arabia, while legislative proposals in this area remain under discussion elsewhere (eg India). The EU has declared the UK data protection framework adequate and agreed on a new regime for cross-border data transfers, while proposing a new set of standard contractual clauses to cover processing outside the EU. Six-figure settlements and penalties continue to occur in jurisdictions ranging from Illinois to Luxembourg.
- Supply chains: the focus on global supply chains has put more emphasis on issues involving many areas of law, including trade and competition (for example, in the context of national reviews of critical supply chains and state support for struggling energy companies), supply chain finance (in contexts ranging from the collapse of Greensill Capital to the new Payment Times Reporting Scheme in Australia), and other contractual arrangements intended to hedge against supply chain risks.
- Use: covid-19 has generated several new standards, sometimes in the same jurisdiction – such as Brazil’s Supreme Court declaring vaccination mandatory in March and its Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs restricting employers’ use of vaccination warrants in November. Ireland has announced legislative plans to give employees the right to request remote work, most likely with a right of appeal. Wider diversity and inclusion (D&I) reporting requirements are being passed, such as Nasdaq-listed companies to publish the self-identified gender, racial and LGBTQ + status of their boards. administration and, if necessary, explain their lack of diversity.
- ESG: legislative and regulatory changes have been rapid in this area, even before considering the long-awaited after-effects of COP26. The EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation came into effect in March, while the UK FCA offered to implement a tailor-made ESG disclosure regime. Increased environmental and human rights due diligence requirements have found expression around the world, notably in the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act. In addition to money laundering and terrorist financing issues, serious questions have been raised regarding the energy costs of certain models of cryptocurrency mining; some authorities have banned cryptocurrency mining in an effort to meet carbon reduction targets, while there are also increasing calls for more efficient cryptocurrency network protocols as well cleaner energy production and smarter consumer control of energy networks.
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