The main topics we're focusing on this week are:

FCA enforcement action increases in wake of senior managers regime

The number of enforcement actions opened by the FCA has rocketed by 23% during the last 12 months, with the number of investigations into governance issues and financial crime soaring. The FCA's annual report shows that the number of open investigations rose from 410 on 1 April 2017 to 504 on 31 March 2018, with the regulator opening 302 cases and closing 208 in the 12-month period. A total of 48 investigations into firms' culture and governance were opened in the year and only two closed, meaning that the number of open investigations rose from 15 to 61.

Company boss accepts director disqualification after marketing calls breach

A man whose business was responsible for millions of nuisance marketing calls has been barred from serving as a company director for six years. Coventry-based Easyleads Limited was issued with a £260,000 fine by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in September 2017 after the watchdog found it was responsible for making 16.7 million automated marketing calls without the prior consent of recipients of those calls. The company also breached rules that companies making automated marketing calls to identify the sender or instigator of those calls and provide an address or telephone number that they can be contacted on free of charge, according to the ICO. Easyleads, however, failed to pay the fine which led the ICO to file for and obtain a court order to wind up the company.

Call for 'constructive' EU response to UK Brexit proposals

Businesses face the prospect of long-term major disruption to their operations unless the UK's Brexit proposals are met with a positive and constructive response from the remaining EU member states, the UK's business secretary has said. Greg Clark said recent talks he has held with ministerial counterparts across Europe have highlighted the imperative of an agreement being reached between the UK and EU27 on the terms of the UK's withdrawal from the trading bloc. The UK is scheduled to exit the EU on 29 March 2019. To-date, no Brexit agreement has been reached between negotiators for the UK and EU27. Last month, the UK government published a Brexit white paper which set out its vision for the future relationship between the UK and EU.

Global Financial Innovation Network: cross border fintech testing planned

Financial services regulators from around the world are consulting on plans to let businesses test fintech innovations in multiple jurisdictions at the same time. The move follows an earlier consultation held by the FCA on the idea of a new 'global sandbox'. To-date, though, no multi-jurisdiction sandbox initiative has been developed. However, a number of financial services regulators from across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and North America have now come together to propose a new framework through which "cross border trials" could take place. The framework proposed would be delivered via a new Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN). The FCA is one of 12 initial members of GFIN. Other members include regulators from Australia, the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Guernsey. A consultation on the proposed functions of the GFIN was opened earlier this week.

US fintech report offers chance to compare with UK and Europe

ANALYSIS: A recent report has highlighted areas of similarity as well as differences in the way US authorities are responding to the rise of fintech in comparison to counterparts in the UK and Europe. The report was published by the US Treasury last week. It addressed the US approach to issues such as 'open banking' and APIs; the use of cloud-based solutions; and regulatory sandboxes, all of which are live topics elsewhere in the world.

Success of court disclosure reforms requires 'cultural change'

Plans to overhaul document disclosure in the courts in England and Wales have been approved by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC). The scheme, which was developed by a working group commissioned by then-High Court chancellor Sir Terence Etherton, will run as a mandatory pilot for an initial two-year period for almost all cases in the Business and Property Courts (BPC), beginning 1 January 2019. Depending on the success of the pilot, the scheme could then be extended to proceedings outside the BPC. Commercial litigation expert Richard Dickman of Pinsent Masons who sat on the working group, said that the scheme was "the most significant shake-up of disclosure since the introduction of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPRs) 20 years ago". The new scheme does away with the current assumption of 'standard' disclosure as a default. The extent of disclosure allowed will instead depend on the issues, although there will be a continuing duty to disclose 'adverse' documents that damage the disclosing party's position or support the opposing party's position.

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