This update contains the first report from the CMA investigation which analyses the complaints received so far and details on the insolvency support legislation that has been drafted.
Corporate Governance and Insolvency Bill
As trailed previously, this new Bill has been introduced into Parliament to provide support to businesses facing financial difficulty as a result of Coronavirus, Specifically, it will:
- introducing a new moratorium to give companies breathing space from their creditors while they seek a rescue
- prohibit termination clauses that engage on insolvency, preventing suppliers from ceasing their supply or asking for additional payments while a company is going through a rescue process
- introducing a new restructuring plan that will bind creditors to it
- enabling the insolvency regime to flex to meet the demands of the emergency
- temporarily removing the threat of personal liability for wrongful trading from directors who try to keep their companies afloat through the emergency
- temporarily prohibiting creditors from filing statutory demands and winding up petitions for coronavirus related debts
- temporarily easing burdens on businesses by enabling them to hold closed Annual General Meetings (AGMs), conduct business and communicate with members electronically, and by extending filing deadlines
- allowing for the temporary measures to be retrospective so as to be as effective as possible
Update on Eligibility for Furlough
The Government has produced an update that clarifies that eligibility depends on employment on or after certain dates. Specifically, this clarifies situations where employers:
- Made employees redundant or they stopped working for you on or after 28 February
- Made employees redundant or they stopped working for you on or after 19 March 2020
- Employ someone on a fixed term contract
CMA Taskforce Update
As you will be aware the CMA has established a Taskforce to identify, monitor and respond to competition and consumer problems arising from coronavirus and the measures taken to contain it. They have just published their first report on some of the work of the Taskforce, focusing on the complaints they have received and the actions they have taken in response. While three sectors were initially prioritised: holiday accommodation; weddings and private events; and nursery and childcare providers, but because of the number and nature of complaints being received, package holidays has now been included in the scope of the investigation
This report is an analysis of the complaints the CMA has received so far rather than the findings or actions to be taken but it does provide a very good indication of the issues that they are looking at.
Environment Agency Waterways Update
The Environment Agency has published guidance stating that the public can now do all non-powered water sports on EA waterways and some waterways will be ready for leisure cruising as early as this week, with the rest by 1 June, unless hazards in the waterways prevent us from doing so. From the 1 June, normal time restrictions for our short stay moorings will be in place again, meaning that people currently moored on short stay moorings will need to resume continuous cruising or return to their permanent mooring.
Social Distancing and WHO – 1m vs 2m
One issue that has come to the fore recently is the issue of appropriate social distancing. In the UK the requirement is 2m between individuals whereas the WHO guidance is 1m and in countries like Germany and Australia the distance is 1.5m. The reason this distance is important for the tourism industry is because of a simple mathematical rule – if you halve the distance between people, the number of people you can fit in any given space increases four-fold. For example, under 2m distancing, only 25 people can fit in a 10m by 10m pub. However, under 1m distancing, 100 people can fit in the same space. This has significant implications on the financial viability of businesses when they are able to reopen.