National Security and Investment Bill introduced to Parliament with major potential impact on UK Photonics

Significant changes have been incorporated in the new National Security and Investment Bill that was introduced to Parliament on 11 Nov 2020.   The Bill now proposes mandatory notification to government of transactions in sensitive sectors, essentially effective from 12 November 2020

The list of sensitive sectors has been expanded to include advanced materials including “photonics and optoelectronic materials, semiconductors and critical materials” among others and  specifically includes test, measurement and fabrication and any entity “developing or producing” anything “designed as an enabler for use in….” covering not just parts etc but process or products “used in the manufacture of advanced materials”.  VCSELS, >3kW lasers and optical amplifiers, coatings and laser additive manufacture also get specific mentions.  

 This is a major change that could catch a significant portion of the UK photonics industry, not just those involved in test measurement equipment, and photonics materials but any sub-components.

For those involved in the comms / datacomms section also be aware  telecoms and internet infrastructure equipment” and the entire “telecoms supply chain” is identified as included as is “equipment repair and maintenance services” in respect of data infrastructure.

Please note this legislation is not confined to just foreign acquisitions or investment in UK companies, but includes change of control of qualifying assets including “moveable property, IP…. designs and specifications”.  The bill also “creates a number of sanctions, civil and criminal, that will apply in the event of non-compliance”.

The consultation on the definition of sectors subject to mandatory notification is now open. We would strongly recommend you review this and respond.  The deadline is 6 January, but earlier responses are recommended.  Note the consultation is not on the Bill, but on the definition of those mandatory notification sectors.  Please contact your MP if you have border questions. The Bill will be debated in parliament on 17 November 2020 and has broad cross party support.

Please note that all information provided here is for information only.  As the bill is before parliament, we strongly recommend individual organisations take legal advice on its implications and coverage relevant to their specific organisations

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