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The Mexican courts have issued several precedents to eradicate the existence of usury, allowing judges to discretionally reduce interest rates agreed by the parties. However, some of these precedents contradict each other as to whether the usury prohibition applies to default interest. As such, the First Chamber of the Supreme Court recently issued a decision to clarify these inconsistencies.
Digital collection (CoDi) is the latest electronic payment method developed by the Mexican Central Bank, designed to reduce the use of cash and promote competition, while incorporating larger sections of the population into the formal financial sector. It seems that Mexico is moving forward in financial technologies, such as CoDi, and using these developments to promote larger inclusion, competition and transparency for every sector in the country.
Under Mexican commercial regulations, contracting parties have traditionally been free to determine in their corresponding agreement the jurisdiction in which disputes must be resolved. However, a new binding precedent from the Supreme Court challenges this traditional approach with regard to banking adhesion contracts and is a good example of how Mexico is advancing its consumer protection regulations.
In March 2018 the Fintech Law, which aims to mitigate the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing, was published in the Federal Official Gazette. Subsequently, in January 2019 the National Commission for Regulatory Improvement published draft amendments to the anti-money laundering rules which apply to the traditional banking industry in order to incorporate the new concepts created by the Fintech Law.
The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit recently published a resolution in the Official Gazette modifying the general regulations that apply to banks. The resolution responds to the need to strengthen the regulatory framework applicable to banks, particularly with regard to cybersecurity and technological infrastructure. It also aims to guarantee the confidentiality, integrity and availability of customer information.
Many loans involve the transfer of assets to a collateral or payment-source trust, especially (but not exclusively) when dealing with cash-generating assets, such as long-term contracts or receivables. A 2016 federal collegiate circuit court decision could jeopardise these structures in the context of insolvency proceedings. However, new judicial guidance was recently issued to reinforce traditional considerations regarding trusts.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected president on 1 July 2018 and will take office on 1 December 2018. Not only did López Obrador obtain more than 50% of the votes (approximately 30 million), his party and coalition also won an absolute majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. This is the first time in 20 years that a president will govern with this level of power. But what will this mean for the banking sector?
The funds of some participants of the Interbank Electronic Payments System (SPEI) were recently affected by a series of unprecedented cyberattacks. The Mexican Central Bank revealed that approximately $15 million (Ps300 million) had been involved in diverse irregular transfers, subject to investigation. The cybercriminals had identified a flaw in the system that permitted receivers of SPEI transfers to withdraw cash almost immediately after receiving the transfer so that the money could not be traced.
The president recently enacted the Financial Technology Institutions Law. The Senate had unanimously approved the bill on the law in December 2017 and sent it to Congress, which made no changes. The law seeks to build a regulatory framework that will encourage the development of innovative financial services, increase the level of competition and financial inclusion and place Mexico at the forefront of the industry.
There were a number of court precedents in 2017 concerning financial transactions. For example, a recent non-binding collegiate court precedent broadened the scope and source of information that judges should use to analyse and determine the existence of usury, while another validated judges' authority to use the annual interest rate published by companies that engage in vehicle financing. Further, a binding Supreme Court precedent dealt with the maturity date of promissory notes.
The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit recently circulated a substantially amended draft of the Financial Technology Bill, which has been renamed the Financial Technology Institutions (FTIs) Law. The law aims to regulate the financial services provided by FTIs – including those which are bound to specific regulations and offered or rendered through innovative means – as well as the organisation of such institutions and their operations.
National Banking and Securities Commission amends general rules for credit institutions to curb identity theftMexico | 06 October 2017
In recent years, Mexico has been rated as having one of the highest rates of credit card fraud in the world. The National Banking and Securities Commission recently published the Resolutions that Modify the General Rules Applicable to Credit Institutions, which require credit institutions to verify information and documentation filed by users and customers with different government bodies in order to assure the identity of each prospective customer.
The recently published draft Financial Technology Law will regulate the organisation, operation, function and authorisation of companies that offer alternative means of access to finance and investment, the issuance and management of electronic payment funds and the exchange of virtual assets or cryptocurrencies. Among other things, the initative aims to take advantage of the opportunity to expand the financial market to include segments not covered by traditional banking institutions.
Energy & Natural Resources
The Energy Regulatory Commission has received clearance from the Federal Commission for Regulatory Improvement to publish the general administrative provisions (GAPs) that set out the Guidelines for the Statistic Registry of Commercial Transactions Arising from Regulated Activities Performed with Natural Gas and Oil. The GAPs establish the natural gas and oil registry system and provide new reporting obligations for permit holders.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) recently issued a resolution which has clarified the scope of the general administrative provisions on metering that apply to holders of permits to store petroleum, petroleum products and petrochemicals. In issuing the resolution, the CRE has further relieved applicable permit holders from their obligations to comply with specific requirements.
The 2013 energy reform ordered the legal separation of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) in order to guarantee equal competition for all industry players. Accordingly, in 2016 the Ministry of Energy issued the CFE separation rules to foster open access, efficient operation and competition within the industry. As these rules resulted in several inefficiencies within CFE generation companies, the ministry recently relaxed them in order to maximise resources and reduce power prices for end users.
The Energy Regulatory Commission recently confirmed that certain business models used by retailers of refined products (eg, diesel and gasoline) are valid and stimulate competition in the market to the benefit of customers. As such, retailers can develop loyalty programmes based on bonuses, credits, subscriptions, memberships or exclusive offers, among other things, to be offered by various petrol stations. However, these programmes must be made available to all customers and cannot be discriminatory.
In his inaugural address, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed that fracking will be prohibited in Mexico. As Mexico is highly dependent on the natural gas potential of basins located in the northern part of the country, this prohibition will deny it access to resources which it needs to achieve energy sufficiency. Thus, both the executive and legislative branches should instead consider appropriate regulation (rather than a simple ban) that allows for the rational use of oil and gas resources.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador recently confirmed that bidding rounds organised by the National Hydrocarbons Commission will be suspended for at least three years until the contracts awarded during the previous administration result in effective investment and, most importantly, new oil and gas production. The new president has further affirmed that production will be increased through additional investment in Pemex, which will ultimately result in the national oil company's rescue.
A member of the House of Representatives recently introduced a legislative proposal that seeks to amend the Organic Law of the Federal Public Administration. The proposed reform aims to grant the central government significantly more control over the public administration, including with regard to the energy sector. Essentially, the National Hydrocarbons Commission and the Energy Regulatory Commission will no longer be independent from a technical and operational standpoint.
The 2013 energy reform significantly opened up the energy sector to private participation, thus ending the state's decades-long monopoly. However, the newly elected administration has pledged to revisit the reform and grant the state greater control of the sector. Although there have been mixed messages in this regard, the new administration has confirmed that the third bidding round for granting exploration and production licences and share production agreements will be suspended indefinitely.
Throughout his campaign, and now as president elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador has sent mixed messages with respect to various core reforms implemented by the outgoing administration, including the energy reform adopted in late 2013. Although the incoming administration has publicly stated that it will reverse the reform where possible, it is likely to adopt a more central position once it takes office and faces the actual challenges that must be overcome.
Environment & Climate Change
The production of single-use plastics has increased exponentially in recent decades and in Mexico the volume of single-use plastic waste now exceeds the country's recycling capabilities. In response to growing concern over the effects that plastic waste may have on the environment, a series of legislative changes have recently been implemented. Companies should keep track of any waste-related initiatives introduced at the state and federal levels and prepare for upcoming changes to their obligations.
The National Agency for Industrial Safety and the Protection of the Environment in the Hydrocarbons Sector recently published NOM-001-ASEA-2019 (NOM-001) in the Federal Official Gazette. NOM-001's main aims are to establish criteria to classify the special types of waste produced in the hydrocarbons sector and establish which of these must be subject to a management plan, as well as determine the contents of special management and hazardous waste management plans.
In view of recent policy changes relating to hydrocarbons and gasoline distribution via pipelines, liability for the remediation of soil and water contamination derived from hydrocarbon spills and leaks at storage terminals and pipelines has become a hot topic. These policy changes have largely been aimed at tackling criminal activities that have contributed to soil and water contamination, such as fuel and hydrocarbon theft.
President Elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has already published his environmental agenda, which sets out the objectives to be met and the strategies to be implemented during his six-year term. Under the agenda, a number of regulatory changes regarding air emissions, environmental impact assessments and coastal and marine zones will be introduced. In addition, Mexico will keep working towards its goals under the Paris Agreement and its administrative offices will undergo significant changes.
In recent years, Mexico has seen the significant deterioration of its forest resources, making it one of the 10 worst countries in terms of deforestation. To combat this issue, the New General Law for Sustainable Forest Development was recently published in the Federal Official Gazette. The law is an attempt to focus Mexico's forestry regulation on better management of resources, while also safeguarding human rights and social involvement.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources recently published a decree granting administrative benefits for the issuance of new concession titles for exploiting national waters to persons that hold a title which expired after January 1 2004. Notably, the decree allows for the issuance of new concession titles even if the zone or specific aquifer from which the original concession title was authorised to extract water is now considered a restricted or banned zone or aquifer.
The National Waters Commission recently submitted to the Federal Regulatory Betterment Commission its draft revision of the Mexican official standard which establishes the maximum permissible levels of pollutants in wastewaters discharged into national waters or properties. The draft aims to modernise the standard by including additional terms and definitions, pollutants and parameters regarding wastewater discharges into federal waters, as well as new sampling and reporting frequency obligations.
The National Agency for Industrial Safety and the Protection of the Environment in the Hydrocarbons Sector recently filed a draft emergency Mexican official standard before the Federal Regulatory Betterment Commission. The draft establishes the criteria for classifying types of special and hazardous waste derived from the hydrocarbons sector, determines which types of waste are subject to a waste management plan and details the procedures for formulating such a plan.
Following the expansion of shale oil extraction projects and the discovery of unconventional hydrocarbon deposits, the National Agency for Industrial Safety and the Protection of the Environment in the Hydrocarbons Sector recently commenced a public consultation process to enact applicable water protection guidelines. The draft guidelines provide a glimpse of the authorities' preliminary approach to shale oil projects with regard to water resources and environmental protection.
ASEA issues environmental and safety guidelines for ground transportation of oil and petrochemicals through pipelinesMexico | 29 May 2017
As part of its expansion of operational safety and environmental protection guidelines and administrative provisions, the National Agency for Industrial Safety and the Protection of the Environment in the Hydrocarbons Sector turned its attention to oil, gas and petrochemical pipeline transportation activities. Recently issued guidelines complement the environmental legal framework so that both environmental and personal safety are guaranteed during the lifetime of a pipeline project.
ASEA issues guidelines to identify root cause of environmental and safety incidents in hydrocarbons sectorMexico | 20 February 2017
In light of its concerns regarding environmental and operational accidents arising from hydrocarbons projects, the National Agency for Industrial Safety and the Protection of the Environment in the Hydrocarbons Sector recently published the Guidelines to Carry Out the Root Cause Investigation for Incidents and Accidents. The guidelines aim to identify the root cause of an incident and determine the maintenance and preventive mechanisms that must be implemented in order to prevent such events in future.
Two important instruments were recently published which have generated a number of new environmental reporting obligations for companies involved in the hydrocarbons sector. In addition to these obligations, parties that cause an incident or spill during the execution of a project must undertake all applicable measures and actions to contain, mitigate and repair the environmental damage and contamination caused.
The Mexican hydrocarbons industry is undergoing several regulatory changes, including the introduction of new guidelines which establish insurance requirements to ensure environmental accountability. The guidelines provide specific coverage requirements depending on the type of activity conducted, which should be a step forward in effectively controlling and responding to environmental damage resulting from natural and anthropogenic causes.
In May 2016 new guidelines were published to address the significant environmental risks posed by the hydrocarbons industry and provide corresponding mitigation measures. It is hoped that the guidelines – which are binding on participants in the hydrocarbons sector – will encourage more environmentally accountable mechanisms and mitigate the types of environmental harm that the hydrocarbons industry has already caused.
Over the past few years significant progress has been made in the establishment of a national climate change framework. Most recently, the government has promoted a series of instruments and measures to meet the goals set out in the General Law for Climate Change and the commitments made at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.
Three judicial precedents were recently published concerning the interpretation and application of the Federal Law for Environmental Responsibility. These precedents address issues relating to the statute of limitations for filing suit for environmental responsibility, the right of civil associations to file such suits and the ability of the legislature to modify the fundamental right of access to justice under the law.
Mexico's recent structural energy reform has resulted in the creation of the Agency for Safety, Energy and Environment (ASEA), a specialised, decentralised administrative body of the Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources, dedicated to the environmental requirements of the hydrocarbons sector. The ASEA internal regulations recently came into effect, marking the formal start of ASEA's activities.
The Maritime Spills Law seeks to control and prevent the pollution or alteration of the sea caused by spillages deposited in Mexican maritime zones and outlines the events that will be considered 'spills or dumping'. These events will either be authorised or penalised under the law. The law will come into force on July 16 2014.
The Federal Environmental Liability Law has entered into force. The law is based on constitutional amendments which expressly establish direct responsibility for parties that cause damage and degradation to the environment and natural resources of Mexico. Environmental liability is a new concept under the Mexican legal system, and is separate from civil, administrative and criminal liability.
The National Climate Change Strategy was recently published in the Federal Official Gazette. Providing guidelines and policies to address the effects of climate change in Mexico, it also seeks to promote an inclusive long-term environmental policy focused on green growth by aligning goals, institutions, programmes and resources for such purposes for the next 40 years.
The draft bill for the Federal Act for Environmental Responsibility, currently under consideration by the House of Representatives, seeks to regulate liability for harm to the environment and mandate restoration and compensation for such harm. The draft act also includes alternative dispute settlement options and sets forth the general rules and requirements to file civil actions.
The Mexican Stock Exchange Market has launched a sustainability index. The index allows investors to identify companies in terms of their commitment to sustainable causes and compliance with environmental laws. It also provides an incentive for companies to engage in sustainable practices or else risk losing value and investment capital.
Two draft official standards - on waste for special treatment and hazardous waste - are expected to be approved in the coming months and will create new obligations in respect of waste management programmes. Generators of waste and other parties involved in waste handling would be well advised to start work on their management programmes.
Mexico is moving forward on climate change. The Senate has debated and approved the General Climate Change Bill which would create - among other things - a national climate change policy and an independent climate change authority. It sets out significant provisions on adaptation and mitigation, and on accessing federal and international funds for carbon capture and greenhouse gas reduction.
A constitutional amendment allowing class or representative actions on environmental matters represents a big step forward for Mexico's environmental law. The change will inevitably lead to increased exposure for individuals and entities in performing activities and securing approvals under federal environmental legislation.
The National Insurance and Bonding Commission recently amended the Sole Insurance and Bonding Rules to include the process for securing a temporary authorisation to operate as a regulated company in the insurance sector using 'technologically novel models' (ie, tools or technological media that do not exist in the market and help in the rendering of financial services). This process aims to allow start-ups to offer and test novel models without having to fully comply with the applicable legal framework.
In 2014 the federal government announced that civil liability insurance would be required for motor vehicle owners who travel on federal roads, avenues and bridges in order to guarantee third parties relief for any damages caused to themselves and their property. This measure was gradually rolled out under the Law of Federal Roads, Bridges and Transportation and, as of 1 January 2019, now applies to all motor vehicles.
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently amended the Sole Provisions on Insurance and Bonds, removing the obligation for insurers and bonding companies to inform the commission when their users' sensitive information is altered, extracted, lost, deleted or suspected of having been accessed without authorisation or compromised. Now, insurers and bonding companies must immediately conduct an investigation and notify affected users of a data breach within three working days.
The recently elected government administration has publicly announced that it intends to eliminate the private medical insurance currently granted to public officials as part of their benefits. This measure aims to encourage public officials to use state medical services and reduce government expenditure. If the cancellation of this benefit is confirmed, a significant number of officials are likely to seek major medical expenses insurance, which will present an opportunity for various companies in the sector.
A recent amendment to the Insurance Law has mandated medical expenses insurers to offer insurance products that cover risks which can cause disabilities in individuals. The amendment decree also revised the General Law for the Inclusion of Disabled Individuals, which prohibits any type of discrimination against individuals with any type of disability.
The National Commission for the Protection and Defence of Users of Financial Services (CONDUSEF) recently amended the General Provisions for the Registry of Insurance Adhesion Contracts in order to specify which additional documents must be included in the contractual documentation of such contracts and registered before the National Insurance and Bonds Commission and CONDUSEF.
The National Commission for the Protection and Defence of Users of Financial Services (CONDUSEF) recently amended the General Rules on Good Practices, Transparency and Advertising applicable to Insurance Companies. The amendments have added additional documents to the contractual documentation required for insurance adhesion contracts and provided the form on which insurers must include the registry numbers granted by the National Insurance and Bonds Commission and CONDUSEF.
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently amended the Sole Provisions on Insurance and Bonds in accordance with its annual obligation to inform insurance and bonds companies of the value of the investment unit that they must consider in calculating their required minimum paid-in capital. Insurance and bonding companies must comply with the required minimum paid-in capital every year.
There has been much speculation around the implications of Brexit and the possible termination of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). One of the clear benefits of both NAFTA and the free trade agreement entered into between Mexico and the European Union was the exemption of NAFTA and EU insurers from the foreign investment restriction. However, as this restriction was eliminated in 2014, affiliates of insurers located in NAFTA and EU member states will not be substantially affected.
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently added two new articles to the Insurance and Bonding Sole Provisions which set out new surety insurance contract requirements. Contracts must now include, among other things, confirmation that the insurer is authorised to pay the indemnity for damages without prior notice or consent of the policyholder and that the indemnity may be paid as compensation or as a penalty for the damages suffered.
In order to prevent the misuse of customer information, the National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently amended the Insurance and Bonding Sole Provisions with regard to information gathered electronically. Among other things, the amendments require insurers to implement security measures and mechanisms for the transfer, storage and processing of information generated electronically when contracting insurance and bonds and rendering other services to customers.
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission has issued a temporary measure to enable insureds and their beneficiaries to be immediately compensated for damages suffered as a consequence of the recent earthquakes that affected several areas of Mexico. The temporary measure applies to Mexican insurers that have ceded risks to reinsurers and allows them to use funds to meet assumed risks and recover compensation from reinsurers at a later date.
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently amended the Sole Provisions on Insurance and Bonds in order to increase legal certainty with regard to the regulatory framework that applies to actuarial, financial and investment functions. These amendments aim to ensure that the commission has the information required to take necessary regulatory action in the event that irregularities are detected and prompt intervention is needed.
Insurance regulator provides 2017 required minimum paid-in capital for insurers and bonding companiesMexico | 20 June 2017
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently amended the Sole Provisions on Insurance and Bonds to provide the value of the investment unit that insurers and bonding companies must consider when calculating their required minimum paid-in capital. Insurers and bonding companies must comply with the required minimum paid-in capital each year to ensure that they can meet their financial obligations and responsibilities in the exercise of their activities.
Two years after the Insurance and Bonding Companies Law was enacted, surety insurance is finally starting to take effect in Mexico. In essence, surety insurance is easier to collect and enforce than traditional bonds. The federal government is expected to start requesting surety insurance from its contractors, rather than traditional bonds. This shift in policy will encourage development in the surety insurance market.
The National Commission for the Protection and Defence of Users of Financial Services recently issued the General Provisions for the Registration of Insurance Adhesion Contracts, which regulate the organisation and operation of the Registry of Adhesion Insurance Contracts. Insurers can now comply with their obligation to register the non-negotiable contracts that they offer; failure to do so may result in a fine ranging from $758.31 to $3,791.56.
The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit recently issued a ruling interpreting the requirement to establish special funds under the Insurance and Bonding Companies Law. The ministry has clarified that special funds should be established to support compliance with obligations that stem only from insurance (and not reinsurance) contracts. This will ease some of the sector's concerns, as reinsurance-based contributions would have required insureds to contribute twice as much to the special funds.
The new Solvency II accounting and reporting standards deviate dramatically from the prior reporting standards, which makes it difficult for insurers to issue financial statements that can be appropriately compared with similar statements for 2015. In light of this, the National Insurance and Bonding Commission recently issued an amendment to the Sole Regulations on Insurance and Bonding, acknowledging that it is impractical for regulated entities to issue comparative financial statements during 2016.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources recently issued guidelines setting out the minimum insurance requirements for companies undertaking oil and natural gas exploration and production, processing and refining. All regulated entities engaged in such activities must secure civil liability, environmental damage and – if applicable – well control insurance. The insured amounts vary depending on the activities to be undertaken, but are substantive.
In April 2016 the National Insurance and Bonds Commission amended the Sole Provisions on Insurance and Bonds to include HR Ratings de México, SA de CV as an entity authorised to issue credit ratings to foreign reinsurers. HR Ratings is the first Latin-American rating company authorised to issue such credit ratings, which are necessary for foreign reinsurers working with Mexican insurance and bonding companies.
The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit recently issued general provisions which specify the types of loan that insurance and surety companies may issue to third parties. In doing so, the ministry aims to democratise access to finance, avoid imbalances, promote national economic growth and create another option for debtors to secure credit at competitive rates.
The National Commission for the Protection and Defence of Users of Financial Services (CONDUSEF) has issued general provisions to define certain activities that deviate from good practices with respect to the offer and sale of services that insurance entities provide. CONDUSEF's intention is to strengthen the protection of general public interest.
Given the entry into force of Solvency II requirements in Mexico, the National Insurance and Bonds Commission continues its efforts to streamline internal and external control compliance mechanisms to which insurers are subject. The relevant provisions have been modified to allow regularisation plans and auto-correct programmes to be submitted to the regulator through its website, with the aim of facilitating easier and swifter compliance.
Since 2014, vehicle owners travelling on federal roads have been obliged to obtain liability insurance to cover damage caused to third parties or their property. However, insurers report that car liability insurance has not increased as expected. States are now looking into requiring liability insurance for all cars on the roads in their cities. Mexico City is the first to do so.
The new Insurance and Bonding Law, which implements the Solvency II requirements in Mexico, recently came into effect alongside the new Sole Regulation on Insurance and Bonding. Among other things, insurers must now file periodic regulatory reports using certain forms and templates, which consolidate information that was previously submitted to the regulator through individual reports.
The National Commission for the Defence of the Rights of Financial Services Users has issued rules regarding abusive clauses contained in non-negotiable contracts used by financial institutions, including insurers. The regulator is now empowered to inspect all insurance products and – where it deems necessary – order the use of a product containing an abusive clause to be suspended.
The National Insurance and Bonding Commission has disclosed draft sole rules for comment. One of the changes concerns coverholders appointed by registered foreign reinsurance companies. Under the proposed sole rules, Mexican underwriters will no longer agree to do business with coverholders unless there is evidence that they have been properly registered.
Foreign investment in Mexican insurance companies has traditionally been restricted to 49% of capital stock, with certain exceptions. However, the Foreign Investment Law was recently amended to eliminate the restrictions on participation in insurance and surety companies. Foreign investors can now invest up to 100% in such companies, regardless of the investment's country of origin.
Mexico's recent tax reform may have a substantial impact on insurers, as it limits the deductibility of individuals' insurance premiums. The immediate effect will be numerous cancellations of medical insurance policies and retirement plans, which had previously incentivised long-term savings. Corporations will also face limits on the deductibility of insurance premium payments made as part of employee compensation.
Congress recently passed a financial reform package that substantially affects the sector. Among the changes, insureds will be able to access summary or executory trials for disputes regarding insurance coverage, provided that they first secure approval from the National Commission for the Protection and Defence of the Users of Financial Services.
The Federal Bridges and Highways Law was recently amended to require automobiles that use federal highways to be insured with coverage for any liability for damages and injuries caused to third parties by the motor vehicle. The amended law is expected to expand automobile insurance coverage across the nation, as only a few states in Mexico have compulsory car insurance policies in their local laws.
New internal criteria imposed by the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit are delaying various foreign reinsurers in securing registration or renewal with the Registry of Foreign Reinsurance Companies. While the new criteria are welcome, as they aim to ensure the strength and solvency of the reinsurance market in Mexico, they have nonetheless posed serious problems to many reinsurers.
Congress has passed a new insurance and bonding law. The new law is intended to strengthen the insurance and bonding system according to international best standards and practices, with special regard for corporate control and governance, capitalisation rules, reserve investment and risk management policies, among other things.
As a consequence of new regulatory guidelines, Mexican insurers will face tougher new requirements to assist in anti-money laundering activities. Insurers will need to update their internal 'know your client' policies and systems to ensure that they comply with the new requirements.
The National Insurance and Bonding Commission has issued an amendment to the Uniform Insurance Ruling that will require insurers to ensure that service providers hired to sell insurance products comply with the law. Insurers are now required to request evidence from third-party vendors that they have provided proper training for their employees, and that such employees have received certification from the commission.
The National Insurance and Bonding Commission has amended Section 5.1.24 of the Unified Insurance Ruling related to medical expense insurance. The amendment provides clearer guidelines for insurance companies to follow in regard to their medical expense insurance products. It expressly requires insurance companies to draft policies with clarity and legal certainty for the insured.
A package of amendment to various federal laws has given rise to the possibility of filing class actions against insurance companies. These amendments will have a material impact on the conduct of insurance companies in relation to their clients, not only in their promotion, sale and adjustment of insurance, but also in the assessment of coverage policies, as exposure will be increased significantly.
The Unified Insurance Circular has been amended to require insurance companies to submit statistical information about their activities electronically. The aim of the change is to facilitate delivery and improve the Insurance Commission's access to the information submitted by insurance companies for compliance and surveillance purposes.
In order to undertake reinsurance and rebonding activities in Mexico, foreign reinsurers must demonstrate a satisfactory credit rating and agree to be bound by Mexican law in respect of transactions that are entered into in Mexico or have effects there. However, if the reinsurer is resident in a jurisdiction with which Mexico has a double tax treaty, it must also provide evidence of tax domicile.
It is often said that an insurer's most important 'clients' are not its insureds, but insurance agents - an insurer may offer the best product, but it will not be sold unless the agents like it. Commission is paid in various ways, with some insurers being willing to pay commission in advance. However, Mexican law prevents insurers from paying agents for the sale of products before they are sold and paid for.
The Mexican insurance market is increasingly attractive to underwriters because of its potential for growth. Many non-admitted insurers offer a wide range of products in Mexico through licensed and non-licensed agents, but although the potential revenues are certainly sweet, the consequences may prove sour.
The Circular on Unified Insurance is now in effect. It consolidates the commission's previously issued rules and guidelines on insurance matters, integrating and standardising the relevant terminology, which should make it easier for insurance companies to comply with their obligations. However, various insurance-related decrees are not incorporated into the circular and remain in effect.
The recently enacted Federal Law on Personal Data Protection has prompted many companies to reassess their database management and data-processing activities. However, insurance companies and agents are already subject to sector-specific regulations on the use of information.
A recent Collegiate Federal Court resolution states that where an insurance company requires insureds to obtain medical care from its chosen physicians in a medical assistance network, the insurer can be held jointly liable with the medical professionals. Effective monitoring should be used to ensure that insureds receive a high-quality service. Moreover, indemnity clauses should be included in agreements with physicians.
Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
The administration recently issued its National Development Plan 2019-2024, which – despite the previous administration's plans – does not mention cybersecurity. Although there are still hopes that cybersecurity will be addressed in the soon-to-be-released Communications and Transports Sectorial Programme 2019-2024, it appears that the present administration has no intention of implementing a cybersecurity strategy.
The Federal Electricity Commission recently published draft terms of reference for a new tender procedure in which 50,000km of two strands of dark fibre will be allocated for the provision of free internet services to all citizens under the so-called 'Internet for All' project. Specialist opinions on the project's feasibility have been mixed, and the president has stated that if no winner is published in the near future, he will create a government agency to provide internet services throughout the country.
The Supreme Court of Justice recently declared that an article of the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law – which provided that the minimum fine for any violation of the law not otherwise expressly penalised in another law was 1% of the offender's annual income – to be unconstitutional. This declaration may signal that the court intends to participate more regularly in shaping Mexico's legal framework in order to rectify deficiencies created by Congress.
One of the first actions that the new federal government administration undertook after taking office in December 2018 was to prepare the expenses budget in accordance with the new president's austerity principles. After heated discussions, the budget was finally approved on 24 December 2018. Shortly after, the Federal Telecommunications Institute filed a constitutional challenge in which it claimed that the budget will affect its ability to perform its constitutional regulatory functions.
Mexico recently became the first country to liberate the 600MHz band after the Federal Telecommunications Institute approved the relocation of the last two channels that transmitted therein in order to free it up for 5G broadband services. This transition will enable Mexico to make the band available to the market through a bidding process and exploit international mobile telecoms applications for 5G mobile broadband services.
Federal Telecommunications Institute publishes new guidelines regarding accessibility of broadcast TV servicesMexico | 31 October 2018
In 2017 the Federal Telecommunications Institute published the General Guidelines for the Accessibility of Broadcast Television Services, which will take effect in December 2018. The guidelines establish requirements regarding the inclusion of Mexican sign language or hidden subtitles in certain programmes, which apply to concessionaires that use a signal to commercially transmit broadcast TV to more than 50% of the Mexican territory and federal public entities that are concessionaires of public broadcast TV.
The Ministry of the Interior recently issued the Guidelines for the Audiovisual Content Classification of Broadcasting Transmissions and Pay Television and Audio Services. The 2015 guidelines dramatically increased the hours during which a programme or ad can be broadcast depending on its rating, leading to legal disputes to protect child audiences. While the 2018 guidelines maintain the same broadcast times as the 2015 guidelines, they have increased the duration of the parental warning.
Telecomunicaciones de México recently issued a call inviting applicants to compete in the bidding for the Red Troncal project (ie, the National Backbone Network), which has been in the works since the 2013 constitutional telecoms reform. The winning party will enter into a public-private partnership for the design, financing, installation, deployment, operation, strengthening, maintenance and development of the network and the provision of wholesale telecoms services.
The president recently launched the Red Compartida (or Shared Network), which is one of the most important projects being undertaken in the Mexican telecoms sector. The project involves a new mobile broadband network in the 700 MHz band, which will provide wholesale services under a public-private partnership structure between Altán Redes and the government. The project aims to provide mobile broadband coverage to 92.2% of the Mexican population by 2024.
The Federal Institute of Telecommunications recently approved the final programme for the functional separation of Mexico's fixed incumbent companies as a consequence of the asymmetric regulation imposed on the América Movil Group (AMX). However, AMX has informed the Mexican Stock Exchange that it will challenge the approval of the programme and there has been some scepticism as to the results and practical consequences of the separation.
The Federal Institute of Telecommunications recently announced the auction of the 2.5 GHz band. The auction's purpose is to assign the commercial use and exploitation of 120 MHz of the 2,500 to 2,690 MHz band for the provision of wireless services. Four companies and one consortium are interested in formally participating in the auction process, which is expected to be completed by November 2018.