Thursday 29 April saw the Financial Services Act 2021 finally receive Royal Assent, in the process, becoming the first financial services primary legislation the UK Parliament has passed since the UK’s departure from the European single market.
The Act – formerly the Financial Services Bill 2019-21 – was introduced in the House of Commons on 21 October 2020, and makes reforms to 22 distinct areas.
The background of the Act
The history of the Bill can be traced to the 2019 Queen’s Speech background paper, which expressed a desire to use the upcoming parliamentary session to bring forward legislation to “ensure that the UK maintains its world-leading regulatory standards and remains open to international markets after we leave the EU.”
The Bill’s stated objectives at the time of its introduction to the House of Commons included enhancing the UK’s prudential standards and promoting financial stability; promoting openness between the UK and international markets; and maintaining an effective financial services regulatory framework and sound capital markets.
The Treasury later added another objective in acknowledgement of amendments made during the Bill’s passage through Parliament, to “protect consumers who use a range of financial services.”
What are the standout changes in the Act?
Organisations using various services offered by London Registrars such as directors’ service addresses, the preparation and submission of the annual Confirmation Statement, and the maintenance of statutory registers and more, are likely to take an interest in the various measures contained in the Act.
Eye-catching elements of the legislation include, among others, Section 30 on insider lists and managers’ transactions, as well as the information on maximum sentences for insider dealing and financial services offences in Section 31.
Section 30, for instance, amends UK Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) to clarify who is required to maintain an insider list. Specifically, it sets out that issuers and any person acting on their behalf or on their account all must maintain such a list, as opposed to issuers or any person acting on their behalf or account.
Also included in this section is an amendment to Article 19(3) of UK MAR, to modify the timetable within which issuers are required to disclose transactions by PDMRs and PCAs to the public. Issuers are now expected to disclose transactions within two days of the PDMRs and PCAs notifying them of those transactions, rather than no later than three business days following the transaction date.
Meanwhile, Section 31 extends the maximum sentence for criminal market abuse from seven to 10 years.
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17 May 2021