UK: Fig Bulletin, 12 July 2019

Last Updated: 22 July 2019
Article by Hogan Lovells


SMCR and Benchmark Administrators: FCA update

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published an update relating to the extension of the senior managers and certification regime (SMCR) to FCA solo-regulated firms.

The SMCR is due to be extended to FCA solo-regulated firms from 9 December 2019.

However, the FCA reminds firms that, on 9 December 2019, the SMCR will not apply to:

  • benchmark administrators, pending a consultation dedicated specifically to benchmark administrators; and
  • claims management companies, until they have been authorised by the FCA.

For further information, see our update: FCA issues senior managers and certification regime update.

FCA SMCR for solo-regulated firms: Form O deadline

The FCA has updated its website on the senior managers and certification regime (SMCR) for FCA solo-regulated firms to confirm that the deadline for firms to submit Form O (Opt Up Notification – for Core and Limited Scope firms only) is 24 November 2019.

FCA annual competition performance report for 2018/2019

The FCA has published its annual competition performance report for 2018/2019. In its report, the FCA gives an update on how it is delivering against its competition objective across financial services. The report covers the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. It draws on specific examples of the FCA's work and complements the FCA's wider annual report for 2018/2019.

FCA annual diversity report for 2018/2019

The FCA has also published its sixth annual diversity report for 2018/2019. The diversity report is produced annually to fulfil part of the FCA's public sector equality duty (PSED) under the Equality Act 2010 and related secondary legislation.

In its report, the FCA gives an overview of its strategy and approach towards diversity, summarises its key activities and successes over the last year and sets out its workforce profile and network groups.

The FCA states that a diversity of perspectives results in better judgements and better decision-making in the public interest. It reduces the risk of groupthink and encourages innovation. The FCA reiterates a recurrent theme it has been expressing recently as a regulator, that diversity and inclusion are central important features of how it evaluates firm culture and conduct.

FCA annual enforcement performance report for 2018/19

The FCA has published its enforcement annual performance report for 2018/19. The report complements the FCA annual report 2018/2019 and focuses on key enforcement developments.

During the reporting period, headlines include:

  • the FCA issued 265 final notices (243 against firms and individuals trading as firms and 22 against individuals);
  • the FCA secured 288 outcomes using its enforcement powers (276 regulatory/civil and 12 criminal); and
  • the FCA imposed 16 financial penalties totalling £227.3m.

A large number of open cases relate to retail conduct, insider dealing, financial crime and culture and governance.

The annual report also includes key themes from feedback received from firms and individuals under investigation.

Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013: BEIS report

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published its first statutory report on the implementation of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (the Regulations) which implement most of the Consumer Rights Directive.

The Regulations require the government to report every five years on whether the objectives of the Regulations remain appropriate, the extent to which they have been achieved, and if they could be achieved using less regulation. BEIS called for evidence on these issues in March 2019.

This report summarises the feedback BEIS received, including that:

  • consumers need better education about their rights, and traders about their obligations. Vulnerable consumers particularly need support;
  • greater government guidance would be useful;
  • leisure accommodation bookings should continue to be exempted from the cancellation right; and
  • there is no alternative to regulation that would give consumers sufficient confidence and protection.

The report contains no proposals for reform; these will be made in a Consumer White Paper to be published later this year.

Section 177(1) of FSMA: FCA V Neville Registrars

In FCA v Neville Registrars Ltd [2019] EWCH 1611 (Ch), the High Court (Morgan J) considered the interpretation of section 177(1) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA), which relates to the FCA's information gathering powers.

Under section 177(1), if a person fails to comply with an information requirement imposed on them under Part XI of FSMA, the person imposing the requirement may certify that fact in writing to the court. This is important as failure to comply with an information requirement without reasonable excuse may be punished to the same extent as if the person concerned were in contempt of court (section 177(2)).

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