Coronavirus Resource Hub

Legal and business insights on the COVID-19 pandemic

Our guidance for businesses on the legal, regulatory and commercial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the rapidly changing environment, we will update this page frequently. To receive the latest information quickly, join our mailing lists or manage your subscriptions from our alert sign-up page.

Topics by region

Antitrust

April 28 – EU Loosens State Aid Rules Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
The European Commission has committed to a quick clearance procedure for all aid measures that member states are planning to take supporting sectors directly affected by the pandemic.

April 24 – Will COVID-19 Impact UK Merger Control?
The UK Competition and Markets Authority published guidance on its approach to merger assessments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 9 – Competitor Collaborations During COVID-19: The EU and UK Competition Law Perspective
The EC and CMA have launched various initiatives and published guidance to assist businesses in potential competitor collaborations.

March 20 – UK Government Relaxes Application of Competition Law to Ease Grocery Supplies
The UK government has temporarily relaxed the application of competition law to enable supermarkets to cooperate with each other to maintain food supplies.

Capital markets

April 30 – FCA Publishes ‘Dear CEO’ Letter to Ensure Fair Treatment of Corporate Customers
On April 28, 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority published a letter to the CEOs of financial services firms on ensuring the fair treatment of corporate customers preparing to raise equity finance.

April 20 – ESMA Issues COVID-19 Q&A on Alternative Performance Measures
On April 17, 2020, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) provided guidance on the application of alternative performance measures (APMs) in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic by issuing Q&A 18 on its Guidelines on APMs.

April 8 – UK FCA Publishes Policy on Recapitalisation Issuances by Listed Companies During COVID-19 Crisis
The UK Financial Conduct Authority published a policy statement and two associated technical supplements on April 8, 2020, announcing a series of measures aimed at assisting companies to raise new share capital in response to the coronavirus crisis and related disruption, while retaining an appropriate degree of investor protection.

April 2 – UK Pre-Emption Group Provides Temporary Additional Flexibility for Pre-Emption Disapplication Authorities
The UK Pre-Emption Group has issued a statement providing temporary additional flexibility for pre-emption disapplication authorities for UK listed companies, which will apply under September 30, 2020. In certain circumstances, this will allow UK listed companies to undertake non-pre-emptive placings up to 20% of their existing issued share capital.

Compensation & benefits

March 24 – Considerations for UK Companies to Take With Share Options and Other Compensation Arrangements in Light of the Coronavirus Pandemic
For UK companies, we offer a list of considerations and proactive steps to assist UK companies in preserving the ongoing effectiveness of their option plans (including specific EMI considerations) and other compensation arrangements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contracts + commercial litigation

April 17 – Coronavirus and the Courts – a Case for Continuity?
A High Court deputy judge has refused an application to adjourn a five-week trial over concerns about conducting a remote trial in light of the COVID-19 health crisis.

April 3 – Contractual Tools for Customers in Managing Ongoing Service Provision During COVID-19
Whether or not service providers seek to rely on force majeure provisions to excuse non-performance, customers will be well-served in familiarising themselves with other contractual tools available to them in order to manage the ongoing provision of services which remain unaffected by COVID-19, mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on those services which are affected and safeguard their contractual position.

March 18 – COVID-19 and Performance of Contracts in England and Wales
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing major disruption globally, the incidence of commercial parties seeking to avoid liability for failure to perform by reliance on force majeure clauses is set to increase.

March 18 – English Courts Give Guidance on Plans to Address COVID-19 Challenges
Lord Chief Justice announced that English courts are planning to continue with court hearings.

Cyber/data/privacy

May 19 – Workplace Testing and Data Protection: Guidance for Employers
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has now published guidance for employers on how they can perform workplace testing for COVID-19 in compliance with data protection law.

March 20 – Europe Issues Pragmatic Privacy Guidance for COVID-19 Data Processing
European data protection authorities have issued important guidance on the processing of personal data in connection with COVID-19.

March 20 – GDPR and Coronavirus: What Organisations in the UK Need to Know
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has published advice to organisations and data subjects in respect of the coronavirus pandemic.

Debt finance

April 27 – Overview of UK Measures Aimed at Reducing the Financial Impact on Businesses
The UK government has announced a number of measures aimed at reducing the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on UK business. A summary of the support available and the ways in which it can be accessed.

Employment

May 14 – UK Employment COVID-19 Webcast – FAQ Update
Following our webcast on the key issues facing UK employers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we answer some frequently asked questions.

April 1 – COVID-19 Key Developments in UK Employment Law: What You Need to Know
Updated guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and other developments impacting UK employment law.

March 25 – Reducing Staff Costs in an Uncertain Economy
The impact of COVID-19 on businesses in the UK is becoming increasingly apparent, causing many businesses to consider how they can reduce staff costs. This alert reviews the variety of measures that UK employers may consider to help manage business viability and continuity.

Insurance

March 18 – Business Interruption Cover and the Coronavirus
The UK government announced that its current measures relating to the use of public spaces, such as bars and restaurants, would be sufficient to trigger some business interruption policies.

March 13 – Your Insurance Checklist for Coronavirus Losses
With many organizations likely to suffer substantial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses should take several critical steps in order to maximize their insurance recovery.

Intellectual property

March 30 – UKIPO Extends Deadlines in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
The UK Intellectual Property Office has extended, until further notice, deadlines for UK trade marks, designs, patents and supplementary protection certificates, as well as applications for these rights.

March 20 – EPO Extends Most Deadlines in Response to COVID‑19 Pandemic
The European Patent Office has announced that it will be extending some deadlines to 17 April 2020 and that this date may be further extended.

March 19 – EUIPO Extends Deadlines in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
The EU Intellectual Property Office has announced that it is extending all time limits expiring between 9 March and 30 April inclusive that affect all parties in proceedings before the office to 1 May 2020.

March 18 – European Patent Office Informally Announces Intended Extension
The EPO has informally announced that it intends to extend all time limits to 17 April 2020 and that this date may be further extended.

Legislation

April 24 – Cooley Helps Advise UK Government on Convertible Loan for Startups and Scaleups
Cooley joined the law firm task force collaborating on the Future Fund financing package, a package recently announced by the UK government to provide financing to UK startups in the form of a convertible loan.

March 23 – UK Government Proposes the Coronavirus Bill 2020 – Key Takeaways
On 19 March 2020, the UK Government published the Coronavirus Bill 2020, which sets out emergency powers and reforms to address the growing public health crisis. We outline the key takeaways for Cooley clients.

Life sciences

April 23 – UK-Specific Guidance for Manufacture and Supply of Certain Medical Devices for COVID-19
Key developments for medical devices produced as COVID-19 supplies in the UK.

April 23 – European Commission Issues Guidance on Manufacture of Certain Medical Supply Products
Europe-wide guidance for rapid production of COVID-19 medical supplies

April 23 – The EU Delays Application of Its New Medical Devices Regime
The EU has decided to postpone application of its new medical regime by one year; although COVID-19 is cited as the reason, the delay is no doubt welcomed by an industry that has lobbied for postponement of the regime for some time because of perceived issues with its implementation.

Product liability + supply chain management

March 25 – Considerations for Manufacturers in Europe Switching to Production of Medical Supplies
Four key considerations for companies moving into manufacture and supply of medical supplies in Europe, with a view to assist in navigating the ever-changing regulatory environment and taking into account the significant time pressures involved.

March 18 – COVID-19 and Consumer Rights in the UK
Cooley lists considerations for UK companies regarding the significant impact the ongoing restrictions will have on businesses and their consumers.

March 9 – Disruption Caused by COVID-19
Many of the measures that have been taken or are under consideration by governments, businesses and other organisations are already having or will have a significant effect on commercial relationships and commercial life generally.

Public companies

May 22 – ESMA Issues Public Statement on Implications of COVID-19 Pandemic on Half-Yearly Financials
On May 20, the European Securities and Markets Authority issued a public statement on the impact of COVID-19 that particularly addresses the preparation of interim financial statements according to International Financial Reporting Standard and interim management reports for 2020 half-yearly reporting periods.

May 14 – FRC Updates Corporate Governance and Reporting Guidance to Include Interim Reports
On 12 May 2020, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) published an updated version of its guidance for companies on corporate governance and reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic to include a new section on interim reports.

April 23 – UK Financial Reporting Council Publishes Updated Guidance on Modifications of Audit Opinions and Reports
The UK Financial Reporting Council issued more updated guidance for auditors on April 21, elaborating on certain factors that auditors should take into account when considering whether to modify an audit opinion.

April 17 – UK AGM Season: How to Deal With Challenges Posed by COVID-19
Actions UK public companies should consider taking to ensure their AGMs are compliant with the law and to facilitate shareholder participation in light of new challenges posed by COVID-19.

March 30 – Updates for UK + European Capital Markets: FCA, FRC + PRA Joint Statement, AIM Guidance and ESMA Public Statement
Several key updates for UK and European capital markets have recently been released (focusing primarily on financial reporting), including a joint statement by the Financial Conduct Authority, Financial Reporting Council and Prudential Regulation Authority, an Inside AIM publication by the London Stock Exchange and a public statement from the European Securities and Markets Authority.

March 23 – UK FCA Asks Companies to Delay Preliminary Financial Statements Amid COVID-19
The UK Financial Conduct Authority has strongly requested that companies with securities listed on the Official List observe a moratorium on the publication of preliminary financial statements for at least two weeks.

March 23 – AIM Regulation Announces Temporary Measures to Support Companies, Nominated Advisers Amid COVID‑19
AIM Regulation announced temporary measures for applying discretion to the application of certain of the AIM Rules for Companies and AIM Rules for Nominated Advisers in light of restrictions and challenges due to COVID-19.

March 20 – UK Financial Reporting Season: UK Financial Reporting Council Publishes Guidance for Auditors on Audit Issues
The UK Financial Reporting Council issued updated guidance for auditors, which may be facing practical difficulties in carrying out audits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 19 – COVID-19: UK Financial Conduct Authority Provides Commentary to Issuers and Market Participants
Cooley offers key takeaways from the March 17 UK Financial Conduct Authority’s Primary Market Bulletin.

March 18 – Market Abuse Regulation: Reminder of Ongoing Disclosure Obligations in the Context of COVID-19
Remember that issuers should disclose as soon as possible any relevant significant information concerning the impacts of COVID-19 on their fundamentals, prospects or financial situation in accordance with their transparency obligations under MAR.

March 18 – UK Financial Reporting Season: UK Financial Reporting Council Publishes Advice to Companies and Auditors on COVID-19 Risk Disclosures
Given the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the month since the guidance was published, the FRC advice on risk disclosures should be read more broadly.

March 16 – COVID-19: Recent Statements by UK Financial Conduct Authority + European Securities and Markets Authority
Cooley gives a brief summary of recent statements by the UK FCA and ESMA on COVID-19.

Tax

April 23 – COVID-19’s Potential Impact on UK Corporate Tax Residence and Permanent Establishments
Travel restrictions due to COVID-19 could affect the countries in which companies are liable to pay tax, either through a shift in corporate tax residence or the creation of a new permanent establishment in the UK or elsewhere. We discuss both this and other noteworthy COVID-19-related UK tax developments, including limitations on the ability to claim tax credits where money under the UK Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme is used to fund R&D expenditure.

April 17 – UK Tax Support: VAT and Self-Assessment Income Tax Deferrals, and Scaled Up Time to Pay Scheme
The UK Government announces deferral until 2021 of VAT payments for the next three months, and six month deferral of 31 July 2020 self-assessed income tax due from self-employed. It also sets up a dedicated helpline to improve access to its Time to Pay scheme.

March 19 – New UK Tax Rules on Off-Payroll Working: Postponed Until 2021
In a bid to support British business through the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK government has postponed the introduction of changes to the UK’s off-payroll working rules (IR35), from April 6, 2020, until April 6, 2021.

Venture capital investing

May 19 – Launch of the Future Fund
The UK government’s Future Fund scheme officially launched on 18 May 2020. Full details of the scheme are now published.

April 27 – Future Fund to Assist UK Startups
The UK Government has announced the Future Fund scheme to provide financing to UK start-ups, and this alert provides details on eligibility, the headline terms and the steps companies can take now to be prepared for the scheme's May launch.

White collar

March 20 – Remaining Vigilant to Compliance and Enforcement Concerns in Times of Crisis
Companies and executives need to be especially attuned to signs of potential fraud and criminal activity during this economic and health crisis. The temptation to take shortcuts can saddle a company with investigations and liability for years to come.

Government + legal resources

Media commentary

COVID-19 Contacts
Maureen Alger Partner, Palo Alto
Laura Berezin Partner, Palo Alto
Barbara Borden Partner, San Diego
Wendy Brenner Partner, Palo Alto
Nicole Brookshire Partner, Boston
Alfred Browne Partner, Boston
Erin Estevez Special Counsel, Washington, DC
Rod Freeman Partner, London
Jacqueline Grise Partner, Washington, DC
J.G. Harrington Special Counsel, Washington, DC
Cathy Hershcopf Partner, New York
Greg Hoffnagle Special Counsel, New York
Matthew Johnson Special Counsel, Washington, DC
Claire Keast-Butler Partner, London
Christopher Kimball Partner, Washington, DC
Heidi Lawson Partner, Boston
Eileen Marshall Partner, Washington, DC
Joshua Mates Partner, San Francisco
Chadwick Mills Partner, San Francisco
David Mills Partner, Washington, DC
Alessandra Murata Partner, Palo Alto
Danielle Naftulin Partner, Palo Alto
Pablo Nichols Special Counsel, Washington, DC
Adam Ruttenberg Partner, Washington, DC
Cullen Drescher Speckhart Partner, Washington, DC
Gregory Tenhoff Partner, Palo Alto
Jay Vaughan Partner, Washington, DC
Erin Walczewski Pro Bono Counsel, Boston
Peter H. Werner Partner, San Francisco
Adriana Wirtz Partner, New York