Insights Government publishes statement under section 3 of the National Security and Investment Act 2021

The s 3 statement sets out how the Secretary of State expects to exercise the power to give a call-in notice under the 2021 Act. It states that an acquisition can be called in for assessment if the Secretary of State reasonably suspects the acquisition has given rise, or may give rise, to a risk to national security or arrangements are in progress or contemplation which, if carried into effect, will result in an acquisition that may give rise to a risk to national security. The acquisition must also meet certain criteria to be a qualifying acquisition under the 2021 Act. The Secretary of State may then clear the acquisition or, if necessary and proportionate, impose certain conditions, block it, or unwind it completely.

The statement gives as much detail as is possible on how the Secretary of State expects to use the call-in power. It states that the power will be used solely to safeguard the UK’s national security and not to promote any other objectives. The statement must be reviewed by the Secretary of State every five years and may be reviewed more frequently.

The statement refers to “qualifying acquisitions”, which means those acquisitions that the Act defines as “trigger events”. The Government has published separate guidance on the scope of qualifying acquisitions.

In terms of areas of the economy more likely to result in a risk to national security and therefore to be called-in, the statement provides that “qualifying acquisitions” across the whole economy are in scope, but that the call-in power may only be used in respect of qualifying acquisitions that the Secretary of State reasonably suspects give rise to or may give rise to a risk to national security. The Act is not a system for screening all acquisitions in the economy.

Some qualifying acquisitions of target entities in certain areas of the economy, including advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, communications, computing hardware and data infrastructure, are subject to mandatory notification because of their particular sensitivity. As a result, such acquisitions are more likely to be called in, as the activities in which these entities are engaged are more likely to give rise to risks to national security.

The statement also covers what the Secretary of State is seeking to protect through the call-in power, the risk factors that he/she will take into account when deciding whether to exercise the power (including examples of certain scenarios), asset acquisitions that are also in scope (together with different scenario examples), extraterritorial use of the power, and retrospective use of the power. To access the statement in full, click here.