Your commercial news round-up: HMRC, KPMG, O2, JP Morgan

updated on 24 June 2021

With covid-19 dominating the news over the past year, it’s important for aspiring lawyers to take a step back to think about the legal, economic and social impact the virus has had on businesses and how they operate. After reading LawCareers.Net Weekly, try to decipher what is relevant to your target firms and their clients.

Read LCN’s round-up below for some other notable stories to keep you in the loop. If you’re interested in a particular story, delve into it further to boost your commercial awareness.

  • HMRC promises to go easy on small businesses strangled with coronavirus-related debt. According to the Financial Times, HMRC will take a “cautious approach” on the collection of tax arrears – a much less aggressive approach than companies have experienced in the past. Business owners in struggling sectors, such as hospitality, retail, leisure and travel, have been “thrown a lifeline by the government which will not pursue them for unpaid taxes to avoid a wave of insolvencies this summer.” Roger Baker, the director of policy at the Institute of Directors (IoD), said this “would represent a significant shift in the way that HMRC deals with insolvency.” Now more than ever, it is crucial that the government does not risk pushing businesses into further difficulty by using agencies that can be harmful to people’s financial, mental and physical health.
  • According to CITY AM “accounting giant KPMG is expected to be told to pay £250 million for its role in the collapse of outsourcing firm Carillion, its former client, in 2018.” In addition to this lump sum, KPMG will face a lawsuit for allegedly failing to properly examine and spot misstatements in the outsourcing group’s accounts. Carillion was a construction group involved in building and maintaining hospitals and roads, as well as delivering millions of school meals. However, it went bust in January 2018 owing almost £7 billion; this collapse became one of the “largest corporate collapses in the building and construction industry in UK history.” The claim of damages is said to reflect the sums Carillion paid out in dividends, advisory fees and losses incurred while it continued to trade before disqualification earlier this year.
  • British travellers will now face the return of the EU mobile roaming charges, courtesy of O2. One of the UK’s biggest network providers will subject its customers to a roaming limit of 25GB from 2 August. The Telegraph reported; “British travellers will be charged £3.50 for each gigabyte of data that they use over a limit of 25 gigabytes.” Just last year, O2 reassured its customers that it had no plans to reintroduce roaming charges after the Brexit deal; however, in an email to customers earlier this year the provider announced “changes to our roaming fair usage policy.”
  • Top-tier investment bank JP Morgan will instruct US staff to register their vaccine status on an internal web portal. The BBC reported that the boss of the US bank wants staff back in the office from July and has taken a strategic move that “is intended to reassure workers that returning to the office is safe.” Meanwhile, rivals Goldman Sachs told its US bankers to report their vaccine status earlier this month and Morgan Stanley told employees they must be vaccinated before returning to the office.

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