In 2016, citizens of the United Kingdom voted to withdraw from the European Union pursuant to Article 50 of the “Lisbon Treaty,” in what has become famous the world over as “Brexit.” The British government is working out a plan to implement the EU separation, set for March 29, 2019. While any number of actions or interventions could occur in the coming weeks, businesses can now only work with this date. Based on that knowledge, we have put together some online Brexit resources that we believe would be helpful to law firms and businesses monitor this historical event and prepare as much as they can.
Brexit explained in a nutshell
Britain joined the original iteration of the EU in 1973, and extricating itself from the coalition of nations after 45 years will not be simple or quick. Under the terms of the withdrawal agreement reached by the UK and the 27 other EU member states, Britain will cease to be a member of the European Union on March 29, 2019, and enter a transition period lasting until December 31, 2020. This transition is designed to maintain the status quo as much as possible to allow the parties more time to negotiate and prepare for the terms of separation and a future trading model.
Ultimately, the practical effect will be that the UK will no longer be required to adopt EU laws and regulations or comply with EU court rulings, as it currently is, and no longer have an obligatory financial relationship with the EU. UK-based businesses and individuals will relinquish their right to be heard before EU courts, although businesses will continue to be subject to EU laws when operating within EU countries and to have standing before the European Commission and EU courts in matters arising from those activities.
Brexit is expected to have a huge impact on trade and the movement of workers between the UK and EU countries.
What are the implications for US businesses with dealings in the UK and/or the EU, particularly from a legal standpoint? What will change and what will remain unchanged? LAC has compiled a list of resources for law firm librarians, lawyers, business researchers and decision makers that may useful in navigating the complicated Brexit terrain.
Implications for US businesses with dealings in the UK and/or the EU
This brief by legal services provider Herbert Smith Freehills LLP explains the legal and constitutional effects the withdrawal process will have on Britain as well as UK member countries Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It explains how UK lawmakers may choose to retain, reform or repeal EU laws affecting employment, health and safety, consumer protection and the environment.
HSF also publishes a continually updated Legal Guide that projects how Brexit will impact a range of business matters from intellectual property and dispute resolution to taxes and data protection. This page contains a link to download the 96-page PDF report.
Since Brexit developments change by the day, HSF hosts a “Brexit Notes” blog that includes periodic updates to the Legal Guide and other breaking Brexit news, as well as a podcast series with analysis of the issues confronting businesses.
UK law firm Travers Smith LLP provides a comprehensive Brexit resource for businesses that includes up-to-date legal developments; legal briefings on such subjects as how Brexit will affect transfer of personal data; links to outside sources (mostly UK government reports); and “Q&A Guides” on such topics as how Brexit will affect existing trade agreements between the UK and EU.
Perhaps best of all, a “Brexit by Topic” dropdown menu links to pages covering 22 different sectors such as real estate, commercial contracts, finance, IP, goods and services and more, outlining anticipated consequences and advising businesses what they should do now to safeguard their rights and interests.
While some laws will change, some will not because some aspects of EU law, such as those governing employment rights for instance, have already been enacted into British law.
Brick Court Chambers, a British barristers’ group, publishes the blog “Brexit Law,” which looks at legal issues arising from Brexit such as its effects on pending litigation before EU courts.
University College London’s portal for research, academic content and expertise “on all things Brexit.”
Advice for organizations with interests in the UK
While some things might remain unchanged, companies might need to renegotiate or terminate contracts to clarify the terms for trade across EU borders, including the value-added tax (VAT). Herbert Smith Freehills publishes a series of “contract disputes practical guides” such as this one describing what changes commercial parties can expect in existing contracts. In it, the authors advise that the core principles of British contract law, such as remedies for breach, will be unaffected by Brexit.
Nevertheless, it’s imperative for businesses to review existing contracts for any terms that might be affected by Brexit.
Outlook for the tax consequences of Brexit and tax planning advice for businesses from The Tax Adviser.
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP addresses the potential impact of Brexit on contractual obligations, regulation of financial services, immigration rules and cross-border rights to work.
Specialists with international law firm DLA Piper examine the potential impact of Brexit on a number of sectors spanning mergers and acquisitions, media and entertainment, procurement, insurance, patents, energy and more.
PwC examines not only how businesses can prepare for Brexit but how they can take advantage of potential opportunities that may arise. Features include a “Brexit checklist” for organizations to assess the readiness of various business functions, and a subscription-based “Beyond Brexit” podcast series.
Andrew Gray, PwC’s “head of Brexit,” advises businesses to be extra proactive and diligent in their Brexit planning in the midst of the present uncertainty: “We are still advising organizations to keep preparing for both a deal and no deal and continue to implement their contingency plans.”
Elsevier addresses the implications of Brexit for the global health and sciences research community.
Background fundamentals on Brexit
This Library of Congress research guide covers historical background on the UK’s relationship with the EU and procedural aspects of the Brexit process.
- The European Union Treaty Article 50 text in its entirety.
- “The process for exiting the European Union and the government’s negotiating objectives”, a British House of Commons publication.
LAC Group is not a law firm and this information should not be construed as legal guidance or advice. What we can do is help law firms and businesses monitor Brexit news and events as the process unfolds or changes altogether. Our research and intelligence services and knowledge management support can be customized to meet your needs, for cost-efficiency and instant access and availability.