On 27 February 2013 the UK Government launched a consultation, the ‘Consultation on the Company and Business Names 2013’ (the “2013 Consultation“) to review the list of ‘sensitive’ names that companies must get approval for before they can be used.  Following the 2013 Consultation, the UK Government has decided to relax the rules restricting company names, effective from 31 January 2015.

What changes have been made?

Prior to 31 January 2015, the list of words requiring prior approval was around 150 words long. This list has now been cut by about one third in an attempt to reduce ‘red tape’ and minimise the burden on companies, particularly start-ups.  Words that have been removed from this list include: ‘group’, ‘holding’, ‘international’, ‘United Kingdom’ and ‘services’. This is in addition to an increased list of characters and accents that can be used in a company’s name which the Government hopes will remove an additional and unnecessary hurdle.


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The new Public Sector Directive 2014/24 (the New Public Sector Directive) on public procurement entered into force on 17 April 2014. This replaces Directive 2004/18. The New Public Sector Directive is accompanied by two other new directives, those for utilities and concession contracts respectively. Member States have two years to implement the New Public Sector Directive into national law. However, the UK government believes there are efficiencies to be gained for the national economy by its early implementation. To this end the Cabinet Office has recently published for consultation a draft version of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (the Draft Regulations). Whilst the government is keen to encourage dialogue regarding the Draft Regulations, it also points out that the vast majority of the content of the Regulations must be included in accordance with the New Public Sector Directive. As such, the consultation will not result in any dramatic changes to the Draft Regulations. The Cabinet Office has also stated that it has adopted a “copy out” approach in line with the Coalition’s policy of avoiding “gold plating” legislation wherever possible.
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A new consultation document has proposed that the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) rules should be widened so that more tax schemes will be caught by new powers requiring accelerated payments of tax.

Under the DOTAS regime, the promoters of certain kinds of tax schemes are required to notify HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) with those schemes’ details. Once notified, HMRC will issue the scheme with a DOTAS number which then must be included on any tax returns relating to the scheme. However, HMRC’s issuance of a DOTAS number does not indicate that it has approved the scheme as being compliant with tax rules.


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Written by Jacob B. Pankowski and Stephen C. Tupper

As a general rule, high-value government contracts in the EU must not be awarded by public authorities without first complying with the detailed EU procurement rules designed to ensure non-discriminatory access to such contracting opportunities and “value-for-money” for public authorities and, ultimately, EU taxpayers. However, due to national sensitivities in the EU Member States, the defence procurement market was traditionally largely exempt from the EU public procurement regime. That position changed in August 2011 when the EU’s newly liberalised defence procurement regime officially opened for business.

It is still too early to judge whether the reforms are having the desired effect-namely to increase the level and intensity of international competition for the EU’s estimated annual defence spend of over €170 billion. Ultimately the success of the initiative will depend on the confluence of two phenomena: (i) total commitment on the part of national contract authorities to look beyond their “national champions” to the better deals being offered by foreign suppliers; and (ii) enthusiastic engagement by foreign suppliers in the new market(s). Should either fail to materialise then the market opening will almost certainly be deemed a damp squib.
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Written by Jacob B. Pankowski and Stephen C. Tupper

Two recent announcements indicate a desire by the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) to rely more heavily on the private sector in the coming years — thus creating potential new markets for U.S. defense contractors.

First, on July 5, 2012, the MOD announced the creation of the “whole force concept” under which it plans to ax a substantial part of the British Army, cutting regular troop numbers from 102,000 to 82,000. In their place, support contractors would be tapped, most likely in the areas of logistics and mechanical engineering, among others. While it remains unclear when this move to incorporate more private sector contractors into the “whole force concept” will occur, major U.S. support providers are already lining up to participate.

Second, the MOD also recently announced that it is considering outsourcing its entire $22 billion annual procurement and support organization, as early as 2013. This effort would, at least, partially privatize the UK’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organization. The MOD has already selected 15 companies for market testing talks to determine the best way to implement this massive privatization. It is unclear what ultimate shape the new organization would take but this is clearly an opportunity for U.S. contractors.
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Written by Simon Harms and Lisa Navarro

On 15 March 2012, the UK’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills (“BIS”) announced its plans for the reform of the UK competition regime. These proposals were crystallised on 23 May 2012 in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill (the “Bill”).

The proposals set out in the Bill include amendments to the existing legal rules and certain procedures, as well as a major structural shakeup of the enforcement institutions, the Office of Fair Trading (“OFT”) and the Competition Commission (“CC”). As part of a wider rationalisation of UK governmental organisations, the OFT and CC are to be merged into a single entity, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) by April 2014.

This article highlights the main institutional and operational changes that will accompany this structural shift. It goes on to consider other key proposals contained in the Bill relating to merger control and the criminal “cartel offence”.
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