On Thursday 29 April, the National Security and Investment Bill received Royal Assent and became law, ushering in what the government has described as the "biggest shake-up of UK’s investment screening regime in 20 years".

We've written about this bill a couple of times as it has moved through the legislative process (see here and here) as it has the potential to have a significant impact on transactions in a wide number of sectors.  I won't repeat the detail of those posts, but here are a few useful points to bear in mind:

  • The new regime is expected to become fully operational later this year, but transactions can be 'called in' retrospectively, so it's important to be up to speed on this now.
  • Transactions in 17 key sectors that meet triggering thresholds will be subject to mandatory notification.
  • The government can 'call in' transactions in other sectors if it considers that they may raise national security concerns (and voluntary notifications are encouraged if national security could be a factor).
  • Transactions are expected to be assessed within 30 working days.
  • The government estimates that it will receive more than 1,000 notifications a year. 

On that final point, by way of contrast, in 2020 the CMA carried out 34 merger reviews.  The implication is that a huge number of transactions which don't meet the merger thresholds will have to be notified to the new Investment Security Unit, so watch out!