• Earlier this year the HMRC codified the tax concession (ESC A81) for legal fees on termination (see our March 2011 ebulletin).  The drafting appeared inadvertently to withdraw the concession where settlement is achieved through an Acas-conciliated COT3 rather than a statutory compromise agreement.  We understand that the HMRC has now indicated its intention to remedy the drafting if necessary and has confirmed that ESC A81 can continue to be relied on in the meantime to cover COT3s.
  • Many companies still need to consider how they will implement pensions automatic enrolment and, with most employers required to become automatic enrolment compliant in 2012/13, now is the time for employers and trustees to start taking action.  
  • The Davies Report on women on boards published in February 2011 recommended that executive search firms should draw up a voluntary code of conduct to address board gender diversity and to set out best practice for the search process for FTSE 350 board appointments.  One such voluntary code has now been published. It suggests that search firms should ensure that at least 30% of the candidates on longlists are women and, if not, should explicitly justify to the client why they are convinced that there are no other qualified female options, through demonstrating the scope and rigour of their research. 

The point is not made in the Code, but search firms do need to ensure they don't fall into the trap of discriminating against men when trying to follow its principles. Given that clients can be vicariously liable for the actions of a search firm, clients should give clear instructions that the same level of qualification or experience should be applied to men and women candidates for the long list and that potential male candidates identified by a more rigorous search should also be included.