Dear clients and professional colleagues,
The outcome of the June 2016 UK referendum on EU membership ushered in a period of increasing political turmoil in the UK. When I wrote an introduction to the first edition of this legal guide my colleagues and I had a clear view that leaving the EU would take far longer and be far more complex than most other commentators were saying, but I did not anticipate then that over three years later we would have so little clarity on the UK and EU’s long term relationship with each other. Nor that polarisation of views on all sides would have increased still further, leading to political deadlock. This updated Brexit Legal Guide addresses the legal position if the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal and picks out the key pieces of legislation that will soon be in force if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. I hope you will find it useful.
Throughout the Brexit process our team at Herbert Smith Freehills have worked across our firm to help clients in all markets and parts of the world in preparing for this major change. For those who had to make significant changes in order to continue to carry on business in the EU, particularly financial institutions, many of these changes were made in time for the original leaving date of March 29th this year. Across a range of sectors, clients have set up new subsidiaries, acquired new regulatory approvals in the EU or the UK, prepared for changed distribution channels and sought to protect their people working across countries. For businesses that trade in goods between the UK and the EU, however, although careful plans have been laid, the time of testing will not come until the rules at the frontiers and within the EU and the UK actually change – this could be at the end of next month or potentially as late as the end of 2022.
At the time of writing, the Government in the UK has lost its parliamentary majority and Brexit is dominating the political context, driving out other factors which of course may also be relevant if, as seems likely, a general election is held within the next couple of months. The political situation is so fluid that anything I say about the options to resolve the crisis, and how they may affect the timing and nature of Brexit, is likely to be out of date by the time this message goes out. We are all experiencing unusually uncertain times.
What I can say, is that we have worked in depth across our practice from offices across Europe, Asia and around the world, as well as from the UK, to help clients across sectors on a wide range of Brexit issues since before the 2016 referendum. Our differentiating expertise has been recognised both by external commentators and by our close involvement in working with governments and regulators to develop solutions to Brexit related challenges for businesses. Our long tradition of involvement at the interface of law and public policy development is one to which we remain committed.
If you would like to discuss specific arrangements for support through the risk of a no-deal exit or on dispute risks that may arise, or on any other questions or challenges you have, please do contact your regular Herbert Smith Freehills relationship contacts, or otherwise any of our experts listed here.
Chair and Senior Partner
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP