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In brief

On 30 January 2024, the UK government announced its first equivalence decision in relation to the new overseas funds regime (OFR). The government has granted equivalence in respect of the pan-EEA UCITS regime, meaning that UCITS funds established in the EEA can be marketed to UK retail investors once the OFR becomes operational later this year. The FCA set out its proposals to operationalise the regime in December 2023, which we detailed in our related client alert.

In more detail

Prior to the end of the Brexit transition period, EEA UCITS funds could be marketed to UK retail investors through the UCITS passport. Since then, EEA UCITS funds can be marketed to UK retail investors specifically via two primary routes – through registration under the Temporary Marketing Permissions Regime (TMPR), or the recognition process set out in section 272 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA). Both of these routes are relatively cumbersome – for example, it has not been possible to register new umbrella funds under the TMPR (although new sub-funds can be added to umbrella funds that have already been registered under the TMPR and, therefore, marketed into the UK). Similarly, the s272 FSMA process involves carrying out a detailed equivalence assessment on each individual fund to be marketed into the UK, including a comparison of the law applicable to the fund itself and the equivalent provisions of English law. By contrast, the OFR presents a relatively streamlined mechanism to market to UK retail investors.

UCITS ManCos will need to apply to the FCA in order to market their EEA UCITS funds under the OFR. Whilst the FCA has not yet published OFR application forms, it has set out its proposed expectations on the information that will be required in respect of each fund to be marketed, most which is relatively factual information falling into the following categories:

  • Information on the scheme’s identification and eligibility (e.g., name, legal structure)
  • The scheme’s investment proposition (e.g., investment objective, policy and strategy)
  • Fees and charges
  • Parties connected to the scheme
  • Marketing and distribution strategy
  • Characteristics of the units or shares that will be made available to UK investors 

Importantly, the government has confirmed that, at this time, it does not intend to require EEA UCITS assessed under the OFR to comply with any additional UK requirements as part of the equivalence determination. There had been some indications that the FCA was looking at value assessment requirements, though without further conditions imposed by the government that may be difficult for the FCA to carry forward. For more detail on the FCA’s OFR proposals, see our related client alert.

Going forward, the FCA notes that application forms will be available online and whilst they will “require a certain amount of data entry from the applicant at the point of initial registration” the format will also allow firms to notify the FCA “of any material changes once the scheme has been recognised”. It is not immediately clear how quickly the FCA anticipates that it will be able to approve applications, or specifically when the OFR will become operational – the FCA had initially suggested that it would work to open the OFR from April 2024, although the FCA’s consultation does not hold itself to that timeline, noting instead that it intends to issue final rules in the first half of 2024. However, preparations are continuing to get the OFR up and running soon. In September 2023 the FCA asked for UCITS operators in the TMPR to check and update their contact details with a view to the forthcoming allocation of landing slots; with the equivalence decision now made, we would expect further movement on these landing slots shortly. Draft legislation supporting OFR operationalisation was also published on 30 January 2024: the draft Financial Services Act 2021 (Overseas Funds Regime and Recognition of Parts of Schemes) (Amendment and Modification) Regulations 2024 make consequential amendments to various pieces of legislation to insert references to the regime, and are due to come into force on 26 February 2024.

More generally, it is worth noting that although the OFR itself encompasses two separate equivalence regimes for overseas retail investment funds and money market funds (MMFs), this equivalence decision applies only to EEA UCITS and not to those UCITS which are also MMFs (which are currently the subject of ongoing regulatory developments). Further, it is important to note that the OFR is a one-way mechanism in that it only applies to retail funds being marketed into the UK. UK funds being marketed into the EEA remain subject to both EU-level and local law rules on marketing. It also remains to be seen whether the Treasury will consider equivalence decisions under the OFR for non-UCITS EEA retail funds (for example, retail AIFs such as Irish RIAIFs) or retail funds from non-EEA jurisdictions, which would significantly widen the range of investment options for UK retail investors.

Lastly the government has also announced that it intends to extend the TMPR until 2026, which will allow funds currently marketed under the TMPR an extra year to transition to the OFR regime.


Mark heads the Financial Services & Regulatory (FSR) practice group in London and co-leads the FinTech group. He also acts as Chair of the FSR practice for the EMEA region and sits on the Global FSR Steering Committee. Mark is ranked as a Leading Individual in Legal 500 2022 for Financial Services (Non-Contentious Regulatory) and is individually ranked in Chambers 2022 for FinTech. He is described in these publications as being "very knowledgeable" and "very approachable" with "a wonderful range of FinTech experience" and as someone who is "clear, commercial and pragmatic and understands all the issues in detail." He has authored a number of articles and contributions for leading journals and other publications, most notably the Journal of International Banking and Financial Law, the International Guide to Money Laundering Law and Practice, and A Practitioner's Guide to the Law and Regulation of Financial Crime.


Caitlin McErlane is a partner in Baker McKenzie’s Financial Services & Regulatory Group in the London office. Caitlin's practice focuses on advising a range of global financial institutions on complex and high value regulatory matters. She advises banks, major corporates, payment institutions and asset managers on navigating UK and EU financial services regulation. She has particular experience in advising clients on regulatory implementation projects, day-to-day compliance issues, and regulatory issues arising in the context of large-scale transactions. She also expertise in the areas of banking and wholesale financial markets regulation, in particular in the FX and fixed income space, alongside experience advising market infrastructure providers, including major international exchanges, trading platforms, clearing systems and payment services providers, on a variety of compliance issues. Caitlin is also a member of the Baker's ESG and sustainability taskforce, and advises a range of clients on the drafting and implementation of ESG policies and the implications of becoming a signatory to the UNPRI and the Stewardship Code. Caitlin is an authority on regulatory reforms in the sustainability space and sits on a number of trade association working groups. She has recently been interviewed by Climate Action on her work and is a frequent speaker on the subject.


Shaneil Shah is a senior associate in the Financial Services Regulatory Group in the London office.
Shaneil provides strategic regulatory advice to clients across the regulated sector, with a particular focus on the regulations applicable to fund managers, investment firms, market infrastructure, banks and insurers. He advises clients throughout their regulatory lifecycle, from pre-authorisation, through to business expansion and on responding to new regulatory developments. Shaneil also advises on contentious matters, including investigations and enforcement proceedings brought by financial regulators, internal regulatory investigations and financial services disputes.
Shaneil has particular experience advising clients on complex regulatory implementation projects, and has worked closely with a number of asset managers to launch novel products for both retail and wholesale investors. He also advises a wide range of clients on developments in ESG regulations, including the EU’s SFDR and Taxonomy Regulations and the UK’s ESG regime.
Shaneil has undertaken secondments to the London branch of a global investment bank (focusing on contentious matters) and to Baker McKenzie in Hong Kong.


Sarah Williams is an associate in the financial services practice in London. Sarah advises a broad range of clients on financial services legal and regulatory issues. Sarah's practice includes advising on the regulation of payment services and electronic money, investment firms and consumer credit providers and anti-money laundering compliance issues.


Kimberly Everitt is Baker McKenzie's knowledge lawyer for Financial Services Regulation & Enforcement, covering the EMEA region, and brings over a decade of experience to the team in both knowledge and fee-earning roles. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie, Kim held roles specializing in contentious financial services regulation knowledge, and her fee-earning roles covered non-contentious regulation in the private equity and general financial services sectors.

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