Responses to the UK government’s consultation on mandatory notification under the National Security and Investment Bill published yesterday (11 November) will seek to narrow the proposed sector definitions, lawyers told this news service.
There are also concerns that a new agency within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) tasked with policing the regime will be inundated with deal cases, lawyers noted.
“It is absolutely crucial […] to further refine the list,” Samantha Mobley, competition partner at Baker McKenzie said. Given proposed “draconian penalties” for failure to file, definitions have to be “crystal clear”, she argued.
The government has identified 17 such “core sectors”: advanced materials, advanced robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), civil nuclear, communications, computing hardware, critical suppliers to government, critical suppliers to the emergency services, cryptographic authentication, data infrastructure, defence, energy, engineering biology, military and dual use, quantum technologies, satellite and space technologies and transport.
Adding new, very broad sectors such as communications, data infrastructure, energy, computing hardware and transport into the existing oversight regime under the Enterprise Act (2002) “has the potential to extend the reach [of FDI screening] considerably,” said Becket McGrath.