What happened in 2020 and what's on the horizon for 2021

By James Darcy, Leighton O'Brien

Year in review, year to come

COVID-19 necessitated measured responses from governments and regulators to help businesses, consumers and others navigate the uncertainty of 2020. Some legislative and policy initiatives were delayed, replaced by financial relief, tax concessions and legal protections. However, where appropriate, policy initiatives and laws proceeded.

Prepared by our Alliance partner Linklaters, this report brings together details of updates across 51 key areas.

Significant highlights from 2020

  • In August, following suspension of activity due to the pandemic, the Australian Prudential and Regulation Authority announced that policy reform consultations and the issuing of new banking, insurance and superannuation licences would recommence
  • The High Court's broadening ofthe scope of the term'officer of a company' has renewed bankers' concerns about potential 'shadow director' liability when drawn into the affairs of companies in financial difficulty
  • The Competition regulator has taken a strong stance on merger reviews, increasing its focus on the accumulation of data and its effect on the market power of digital platforms

Significant changes on the horizon for 2021

  • Legislative changes to allow for companies to hold virtual meetings and execute documents during Covid19 will become permanent in 2021
  • The Federal Government's new cybersecurity strategy lays the foundation for further industry engagement ahead of what is likely to be an important and ambitious legislative and regulatory agenda
  • Consistent with global trends, big tech will continue to attract ACCC attention, as will merger reform