UK government launches plans to amend UK regulations following Brexit

September 16, 2021

The UK government has announced that it will be reviewing retained EU law to amend UK regulations. It says that this will be done while providing businesses and citizens with legal certainty.

In addition, the government is setting out a package of individual regulatory reforms. Some of these reforms relate to technology developments and so will be of interest to SCL members. For example, the government intends to regulate in the area of AI, as well as autonomous maritime vessels, self-driving cars and drones. This follows the consultation we reported on last week about proposed changes to the data protection regime. The suggested reforms also include the following:

Dematerialisation of shares – although the majority of shares are held in electronic form, a minority are held in paper form. It is more expensive and takes longer for holders of paper shares to trade them and there is a risk of certificates going astray. The government says that it will work with industry, regulators and shareholders in the medium term to determine the best mechanism for converting paper shares, while preserving the rights of existing shareholders.

Digital Transformation of Regulation – The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is leading the Digital Transformation of Regulation programme, which aims to use advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning to make regulatory information more accessible and useful. At the heart of this work is a new database of all UK regulations affecting business, enriched with additional data that makes it easier to understand each regulation and its context. This database will be openly accessible so that organisations and individuals can use it to develop new digital applications that help people to understand and navigate the UK regulatory regime. The programme will also develop a tool for businesses, hosted on GOV.UK, that will help firms to identify the regulations that are relevant to them and understand what actions they need to take in response.

Digital driving licences, test certificates and MOT testing – The government aims to deliver digital versions of driving licences, driving test certificates, and MOT testing processes.

Electronic Trade Documents – The government intends to legislate to place electronic versions of business-to-business trade documents on the same legal footing as physical documents. The proposed legislation aims to make it easier, cheaper, faster and greener for companies to trade and would enable businesses in the UK and around the world to move from paper-based to digital-based transactions when buying and selling internationally.

Execution of Documents – as set out in the techlaw round-up, a new working group will look at increasing best practice and confidence in the use of electronic signatures and other electronic ways of executing documents. By improving clarity in this area, the group’s work aims to help ensure businesses can use electronic documentation with confidence, in turn enabling them to make the most of digital innovations and greener working practices. 

The government also plans to establish a new Commission through which the public will be able to identify additional opportunities for cutting or reforming red tape and bureaucracy. Any individual will be able to submit proposals. The Commission will then consider these ideas and make recommendations for change to the government if they reduce or eliminate regulation.