In-house lawyers: you'd better start swotting up. At 11.30 this morning, the Queen gave her assent to the biggest shake-up of companies legislation in the UK since the 1985 Companies Act.
We don't want to worry you, but it's a biggie. At the last count the Companies Act 2006 had a whopping 1,264 sections. It's going to introduce sweeping changes to how companies communicate with their shareholders, directors' responsibilities and shareholder derivative actions, to name but a few.
Most in-house lawyers (we hope) will have a fair idea of the scope of the changes. But there's still a lot of education required. In fact, The Lawyer's in-house summit, which kicks off tomorrow in Monaco, has a whole session devoted to it by popular demand.
And yes, private practice firms have already seen a massive marketing opportunity. Within minutes of the bill receiving Royal Assent, The Lawyer's in-box was being inundated with press releases from firms rushing to tell us about the change. (A special mention should go to Lawrence Graham - the Strand-based firm got its press release out before the Queen had even wielded her quill.)
But on behalf of in-house lawyers everywhere, we're asking firms to present their thoughts on the new Companies Act in amusing form. We're offering a fabulous hand-made trophy for the first analysis that includes two or more gags. And a bottle of champagne if you can summarise the new act in rhyming couplets. Get to it.