On 29 September 2021 the UK Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) published Consultation Paper CP21-29: Proposed decisions on the use of LIBOR (Articles 23C and 21A BMR), in which it set out its plans for the temporary publication of ‘synthetic’ versions of LIBOR for a narrow range of outstanding sterling and yen contracts that cannot be switched in time for LIBOR cessation at the end of 2021.  LIBOR rates are currently published by ICE Benchmark Administration (“IBA”) and the FCA announced that it is using its powers to compel IBA to continue publishing 1-, 3-, and 6-month GBP and JPY LIBOR rates in synthetic form from 1 January 2022 and for the duration of 2022. The synthetic methodology will be based on applicable term risk-free rates and is proposed to apply to financial contracts other than cleared derivatives.

CP21-29 follows the FCA’s 20 May 2021 Consultation Paper CP21-15 on the policies that it would follow in exercising its new powers under the UK Benchmarks Regulation ((EU) 2016/1011), as amended by the Financial Services Act 2021. With respect to which Feedback Statement FS21-10: FCA use of powers over the use of critical benchmarks also was published on 29 September 2021.

In addition to proposing synthetic GBP and JPY LIBOR rates for short-term use beginning 1 January 2022, CP 21-29 also proposes to prohibit continuing use after 31 December 2021 of overnight and 1-, 3-, 6-, and 12-month USD LIBOR except pursuant to five exceptions specified in section 1.17 of the consultation.

Consultation Paper CP21-29 closes for comments on 20 October 2021. The FCA will decide and specify before year-end which legacy contracts are permitted to use these synthetic LIBOR rates for at least a year. The FCA encouraged users of GBP and JPY LIBOR settings to take steps to ensure that they understand “how their contract terms interact with [FCA’s] proposed decision.”