In this edition of our corporate newsletter, we have selected 2 key changes in UK corporate law which will require many of our Japanese clients' active compliance, and 2 other important topics that we believe our Japanese clients will wish to proactively monitor.

Each week, Herbert Smith Freehills releases a number of free newsletters, legal updates and webinars. Please click here to subscribe to our other publications or to receive our webinar invitations.

Please contact us if you would like any further information about any of these topics.

Action Required – Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA)

The MSA, which came into force on 29 October 2015, consolidates and clarifies existing UK offences relating to slavery and human trafficking, and increases the penalties for these offences.

It also introduced a new reporting requirement designed to encourage transparency in supply chains requiring commercial organisations to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement (Statement) for each financial year ending on or after 31 March 2016.

Our London office has issued a detailed newsletter on the MSA (accessible here). In addition, the UK government has published guidance about the new reporting requirement (accessible here).

Click here to view table.

Action Required – Persons with Significant Control Register

From 6 April 2016, UK incorporated companies and LLPs (Filing Organisations) are required to keep a new statutory register providing details of persons with significant control over them (PSC Register), thereby creating a publicly accessible central registry of beneficial ownership information.

The purpose of the PSC Register is to provide greater transparency of corporate ownership and control. The new requirements are part of the UK Government's "Transparency & Trust" agenda which was launched following the G8 Summit in 2013 which agreed common principles to tackle misuse of corporate structures.

For further information, please refer to our detailed newsletter published by our London office on the new requirements (accessible here).

The key points are:

Click here to view table.

Development to Monitor – Brexit

The question of the UK's membership of the European Union (EU) is now firmly on the agenda, with a Referendum scheduled to take place on 23 June 2016.

With a deal having been reached between Member States relating to the UK's "special status" within the EU, the period leading up to the Referendum will be crucial in drawing the final battlelines for those who support or oppose the UK remaining within the EU.

Any outcome in favour of leaving the EU will certainly have far-reaching political, legal, financial, social, and commercial implications.

Given the far-reaching impact that a potential Brexit would have on many businesses with a global reach, we have created guides which consider the possible consequences of a Brexit from the point of view of various areas of law and industry. They are accessible here.

For further insights, we also encourage those interested to sign up for our webinar "Brexit: Treaties, Trade Agreements, 'Acquired Rights' and the Practical Impact of Other International Law Principles."

Development to Monitor – Sugar Tax

As a result of the broader global movement promoted by the World Health Organisation and Global Non-communicable Disease Network to affect food and beverage consumption behaviours, the UK government recently announced its intention to introduce a tax on sugar sweetened beverages.Full details are yet to be released; however, the scope of the tax is likely to encompass all soft drinks, excluding fruit juice and milks, and apply at a rate of 18 or 24 pence per litre, depending on sugar content and exempting smaller producers.

The UK Government has announced that it will consult with interested stakeholders on the tax proposal over the summer of 2016 with a view to introduction of the levy in April 2018.