Last Updated on 2.2.24 by Christian Mancier
As January draws to a close, Gorvins is considering all the legal changes waiting in the wings for the rest of the year. As always, we stay ahead of the curve on all these issues in order to best serve you, our valued clients.
In this short blog, we’ve collected some of the most important changes coming down the line this year while giving you our take on what it means.
Artificial intelligence (AI) was the big story of 2023 and moved so fast that trying to predict what will happen in 2024 is difficult. One thing for certain though is that AI will once again dominate the legal sector in 2024. Statements from world leaders about a joined-up approach to AI will no doubt continue but the reality is somewhat different, and we don’t need to look very far from home to see the different approaches taken by the UK and EU. Whilst the UK government has stated that it does not intend to introduce legislation to regulate the safety of AI systems, the EU favours a top-down sector based regulatory approach and are pushing forward with the AI Act which is expected to be adopted before the European Parliament elections in June 2024.
Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023
The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 is the second part of a legislative package aimed at preventing abuse of UK corporate structures and tackling economic crime, following the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022. This piece of legislation gives Companies House enhanced investigative and enforcement powers and enables cross-checking of data with other public and private sector bodies, gives greater protection to personal information provided to Companies House to limit the opportunities for fraud. Most notably, this introduces identity verification for all new and existing company directors, persons with significant control and those delivering documents to the Registrar of Companies meaning those categories of individuals will need to provide Companies House with their ID documentation. This will also apply to firms such as solicitors, accountants and company formation agents who deliver documents to Companies House on behalf of their clients.
With the explosion in AI , it is clear that data privacy becomes exponentially more integral in delivering responsible and effective laws, frameworks and governance models. New and updated privacy laws continue to be rolled out across the globe, even though technology continues to outpace regulation (where some of you may recall the original object of GDPR was to make it “technology agnostic” so it did not become outdated by technological advances….the less said on this aspect the better).
The UK has tried to redress this through the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (DPDI Bill) by introducing reforms which balance innovation with data protection. The DPDI Bill is carried over from the previous parliamentary session. Given the number of parliamentary stages remaining and potential challenges to the Bill in the House of Lords, there is a risk that a UK general election may impact the Bill although the UK government believes it is on track to be implemented in Spring 2024.
2024 will see the European Commission publish its review of the EU GDPR. Whilst largely considered a success, there are practical challenges and obstacles concerning EU GDPR implementation.
2024 will see several changes to the Working Time Regulations mainly around simplifying record keeping on hours worked and how holidays accrue for workers who work irregular hours or part of a year (e.g. seasonal workers).
The draft Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 will make some minor changes to TUPE with effect from 1st July. (TUPE applies when there is a transfer of business and assets from one entity to another or when certain outsource type contracts come to an end and the service provision is transferred to a new supplier or taken back in-house) with effect from 1st July. This mainly relates to removing the requirement to elect employee representatives where employers have less than 50 employees, and the cohort of employees being transferred is less than 10 which will make life much simpler when it comes to the sale of small businesses.
Employment is one area which could change quickly and significantly depending on the outcome of any general election that happens in 2024 with Labour committing to introducing significant reforms to employment law within 100 days if it wins the elections. As things stand proposals include, amongst others, a ban on zero hours contracts, banning “fire and re-hire” as a means of changing contractual terms (think P&O), extending statutory sick pay, removing the 2 year qualifying period for unfair dismissal protection and extending the time limit to bring employment tribunal claims from 3 months to 6 months.
2024 will see substantial work by Ofcom and the government towards implementing the Online Safety Act 2023 (OSA), which received Royal Assent on 26 October 2023. The OSA imposes duties on user-to-user and internet search providers to protect users, and particularly children, from illegal and other harmful content. It also introduces several new communications offences (including sending a communication that encourages serious self-harm, sending unsolicited sexual images and so on). These duties and offences will be brought into force over the next couple of years once Ofcom and the government have published a series of codes of practice and guidance as required under the OSA.
Product liability and safety
The EU and UK product liability regimes will take a significant step towards divergence in 2024 when the EU’s Revised Product Liability Directive becomes law early in 2024, with the new rules starting to apply 24 months later.
The Revised Product Liability Directive will constitute a major shake-up of the EU product liability regime, including by extending its scope to cover software (other than free, open source software) and connected products, and expanding the types of damage beyond the merely tangible. It is also intended to make it easier for injured consumers to bring claims for damage in complex cases, such as those involving AI. It will capture UK producers involved in putting products on the EU market.
*Information correct as at 31st January 2024
If any of the impending changes are set to have repercussions for you or your business and you’d like some legal advice to explore your options, give Gorvins a call today on 0161 930 5151 or firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the web form below.