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16 February 2018

Compliance newsletter - February 2018

Welcome to the winter edition of the new-look Charles Russell Speechlys Compliance Newsletter!  

The gig economy has revolutionised the way in which consumers buy and sell services but also created a raft of regulatory challenges.  That is partly because much of its competitive edge derives from a de-regulated, low cost model.   For example, it depends on workers who are self-employed, thereby avoiding the usual employer costs and facilitating lower consumer prices.

That is all well in principle, but it obviously pushes the envelope in terms of what is legally permissible.  The first question that arises is when is a worker not a worker?  This is a question discussed addressed by my employment law colleagues, Clare Davis and Kirsti Laird. 

From a competition law standpoint, this is also an important question.  If workers in the gig economy are not true employees but independent businesses, how can the likes of Uber, for example, set their prices for passengers through its metering system?  Furthermore, if Uber cabs operate outside national rules and regulations on metering which affect their more traditional taxi rivals, is there still a level playing field?   On the other hand, isn’t it more important to have disruptive business models driving down prices and offering improved consumer choice?  These questions have fuelled a number of antitrust cases and challenges around the world. 

Another aspect of the gig economy is its use of data – in particular customer data.  In his piece, Richard Davis explores a recent regulatory enforcement action against Uber after it suffered unauthorised hacking of information relating to its customers and drivers.

Away from the gig economy, Max Davis and Rhys Novak report on a new judgment which provides useful guidance on the limits of legal privilege in the context of investigations for fraud, as well as a new offence applicable to corporates who engage in tax evasion.   

Finally, no issue would be complete without our usual competition law submission.   One of the surprising aspects of competition law is the reluctance of regulators to challenge prices which are too high (surely low prices are what competition is all about?).  That may be changing.  Rory Ashmore reports on a recent case where the CMA has come off the fence and been brave enough to challenge drug prices (a recent issue also in the US election campaign) which it considered excessive.  

EU & Competition Law

Flight and fright in pharmaceutical prices: CMA issues fresh statements of objections to drugCos implicated in hydrocortisone scandal.

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What’s in a name - Employment status and the gig economy in 2018

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Data Protection/ Privacy

Uber data breach highlights notification obligations and GDPR impact

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Bribery & Corruption

The two most impactful changes in the Bribery and Corruption sector in 2017 were the court’s comments on the scope of privilege in internal investigations, and the new corporate liability for failure to prevent tax evasion offence in the Criminal Finances Act 2017.

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