A recent government memorandum implementing an executive order that calls for regulatory relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to affect federal agencies' approach to investigations and enforcement. The executive order and memorandum reflect a preference for leniency and a desire to ease the burdens placed on companies responding to enforcement activities.
Considerations for Continuing To Work From Home During COVID-19
September 10, 2020
As it becomes clear that working from home was not just for the initial period of lockdown but is likely to continue for at least the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, UK employers that have not already done so should consider putting in place a more fulsome work-from-home policy. Doing so will provide an effective way to address important considerations for managing employees who continue to work remotely.
The French government has issued interim rules that lower the applicable threshold triggering French foreign investment control for investments by non-European investors in certain French publicly listed corporations. The rules are part of the government's policy response to the economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for French strategic assets.
Liability Protections in Coronavirus Relief Legislation
July 27, 2020
The SAFE TO WORK Act, introduced on July 27, 2020, would provide relief to American businesses, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations and health care providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. By moving coronavirus-related lawsuits into federal court and codifying what are viewed as common sense liability protections, the proposed legislation would limit the prospect of litigation while preserving the rights of injured individuals to pursue legitimate claims against grossly negligent defendants. This is the long-awaited Senate leadership liability protection proposal that Congress is expected to consider as part of the overall Phase 4 pandemic relief package.
FDA Announces That Domestic Inspections Will Resume
July 13, 2020
On July 10, 2020, the FDA announced plans to resume domestic facility inspections after suspending most foreign and domestic inspections as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. FDA-regulated domestic companies should prepare for the resumption of on-site inspections, while entities abroad should continue to follow good manufacturing practices in anticipation of an eventual resumption of foreign facility inspections.
On June 23, 2020, the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance issued guidance on disclosures focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on operations, liquidity and capital resources. The SEC's chief accountant also issued a statement on the same day regarding significant accounting, auditing and financial reporting issues in connection with the pandemic.
The FDA has offered a temporary solution to the challenge of distributing drug samples during COVID-19. The new guidance, which allows drug samples to be shipped directly to patients’ homes and permits alternative forms of receipt and verification, is welcome news for manufacturers and authorized distributors.
During this time of increased economic uncertainty, the CFTC is providing regulatory flexibility with respect to initial margin rules and non-U.S. commodity pool operators.
On May 28, 2020, the Commission unanimously approved an interim final rule extending the Phase 5 compliance deadline for its initial margin requirements for uncleared swaps by one year to September 1, 2021, in response to the operational challenges for compliance caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CFTC also unanimously approved a proposed rule allowing non-U.S. commodity pool operators to claim the “3.10 Exemption” from registration on a pool-by-pool basis with respect to commodity pools for non-U.S. investors and concurrently with other available relief from registration.
Developers of renewable energy facilities that could experience construction delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic may receive important tax relief from the IRS’ recent relaxation of certain “begun construction” requirements. Learn more about how Notice 2020-41 may allow taxpayers to claim production and investment tax credits despite these delays.
SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Division of Corporation Finance Director William Hinman released a joint statement on April 8, 2020, emphasizing the importance of disclosing current and forward-looking financial information to investors and market participants during an uncertain earnings season resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.
Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis recently issued guidance regarding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included several notable compensation-related points that compensation committees may want to consider as they navigate the challenges created by the current environment.
In response to coronavirus pandemic-related business challenges, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has issued guidance and several exemptive orders to provide regulatory flexibility to registered open-end funds, registered closed-end funds, business development companies and unit investment trusts, as well as to market participants generally in a manner relevant to these types of funds. Such relief includes measures relating to board and shareholder meetings, delivery of prospectuses, proxy materials and shareholder reports, the timing of certain Investment Company Act and Exchange Act filings, and temporary interfund lending arrangements. Each measure is subject to specific conditions.
On March 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued updated guidance for identifying the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce,” which state and local governments may use in making decisions about how best to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The update incorporates significant input from other federal agencies, state and local governments, industry groups and the private sector to address particular COVID-19 needs and synchronize guidance with state priorities.
In light of the impact of COVID-19, the SEC has offered further conditional relief to public companies by extending due dates for filings that would have become due from March 1 to July 1, 2020. The SEC staff also issued related guidance on disclosure and other securities law obligations, as well as no-action relief regarding manual signature and document retention requirements.
The SEC issued an order on March 4, 2020, that provides certain publicly traded companies with an additional 45 days to file certain disclosure reports that would otherwise have been due between March 1 and April 30, 2020.