UK government introduces new sanctions and anti-money laundering bill

On 19 October the UK Government published the text of a proposed new Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill (the “Bill“), which seeks to create a post-Brexit domestic legislative framework for the imposition and enforcement of sanctions. The introduction of the Bill follows the publication on 2 August of the Government’s response to the consultation on the UK’s future legal framework for sanctions (see our previous blog post).

The new proposals would give the Government broad discretionary powers to impose a wide range of sanctions by way of secondary legislation, including asset freezes and other financial sanctions, travel bans and immigration restrictions and trade restrictions affecting goods and services. The Bill also provides for the creation of exceptions and licences in relation to any sanctions, including a new ability for the Government to issue general licences to permit particular types of conduct, such as (according to the impact assessment for the Bill) the operation of NGOs in Syria.

The Government has expressly stated that the Bill is not designed to bring any substantive policy changes in respect of the current sanctions regime, with the main aim being to make it easier to impose sanctions and respond to future events while maintaining the existing sanctions regime, which currently comprises a mixture of EU and UK legislation. The proposals also give the Government wide-ranging powers to supplement or amend the UK’s existing anti-money laundering (“AML“) regime, although the Bill itself does not impose any new AML-related requirements. Continue reading

UK Government’s Future Partnership Paper on Foreign policy, defence and development: including proposals for co-operation on sanctions, cyber security, and the defence and security industries

The UK Government has released a Paper outlining the UK’s proposals for a future partnership with the EU regarding foreign policy, defence and development. The Paper highlights the UK’s shared interests and values with the EU regarding foreign policy and defence, and the UK Government’s offer and intention to work closely with the EU in the future in a partnership “unprecedented in its breadth”, and that is deeper than any other third country relationship. The Paper offers a number of insights into the practical ways in which the UK envisages that such cooperation will be achieved after Brexit, including in relation to sanctions, cyber security, defence and security, development and broader foreign policy. Continue reading

New sanctions reporting requirements for non-financial sector businesses

With effect from 8 August, the Government has introduced significant new reporting requirements in relation to EU asset freeze regimes. Previously, only businesses in the financial sector were subject to the obligations, found in UK financial sanctions instruments, to report specified information to the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (“OFSI“) in Her Majesty’s Treasury (“HMT“). From 8 August, further sectors, including auditors, external accountants, tax advisers and lawyers, have been brought within the scope of these obligations and may commit a criminal offence if they fail to comply with the relevant reporting requirements.

The European Union Financial Sanctions (Amendment of Information Provisions) Regulations 2017 (the “Regulation“) implements this change, and applies in respect of information received on or after 8 August.

OFSI has updated its guidance (the “Guidance“) on financial sanctions to take account of this change. A number of other amendments have also been made to the Guidance, and we will report on these in a separate briefing. Continue reading


On 2 August 2017, the UK Government published its response to the public consultation on the UK’s future legal framework for imposing and implementing sanctions after the UK’s exit from the European Union (see our previous blog post).

The response sets out detailed answers to questions raised during the consultation, outlining the proposed powers for the imposition of financial and trade restrictions and the designation of individuals, as well as the proposed procedures under which such powers will be exercised. The Queen’s Speech on 21 June 2017 confirmed the Government’s intention to introduce a Sanctions Bill during the current Parliamentary session (2017-2019), with further guidance promised on certain issues in due course.

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The UK Government announces consultation on sanctions post-Brexit

The two year process of the UK’s exit from the EU formally began on 29 March 2017 with notice being given under Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union of the UK’s intention to leave the EU. One of the many legal issues to be determined will be the way in which the UK approaches its international sanctions framework post-Brexit, since the vast majority of the sanctions currently in force in the UK have directly applicable EU Regulations as their basis.

The Government has recently launched a public consultation into the question of the legal powers needed to impose sanctions after Brexit, while a House of Lords enquiry into UK sanctions policy is also underway. What do these two processes tell us about the UK’s future sanctions regime?

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Herbert Smith Freehills publishes second edition of Iran Investment Guide

Herbert Smith Freehills is pleased to announce the publication of an updated version of its Iran Investment Guide. The guide describes the key legal aspects that foreign investors should consider when investing in Iran. It has been updated to take into account the lifting of the EU's nuclear related sanctions and most of the US secondary sanctions following the occurrence of "Implementation Day" under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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“Implementation Day” (16 January 2016) marks a significant relaxation of EU and US sanctions against Iran

On 16 January 2016, or "Implementation Day", legislation in the United States ("US") and European Union ("EU") came into effect, relaxing significantly the sanctions in place against Iran. This followed the issuing of a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency ("IAEA") to the UN Security Council, confirming that Iran had complied with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ("JCPOA"). 

In this bulletin, we set out the key changes to the sanctions regimes and consider potential implications for business. For further information, please contact Joanna Addison, Partner, Andrew Cannon, Partner, Jonathan Cross, Of Counsel or any of the individuals listed in the bulletin.



Iran sanctions – UK updates guidance on doing business with Iran as implementation day approaches

Since the announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ("JCPOA") in July 2015, companies have been preparing for the relaxation of sanctions that will allow them to re-enter Iran.  As Implementation Day (the point at which some sanctions will be relaxed) approaches, the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office (the "FCO") has updated its guidance on doing business with Iran to assist British companies looking to take advantage of this new opportunity. The updated document includes guidance, among other things, on entry into MOUs or conditional contracts relating to currently prohibited activity prior to Implementation Day.

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EU prolongs Russian sectoral sanctions until July 2016

On 21 December, the Council of the EU announced that the EU's economic sanctions against Russia would be extended until 31 July 2016.   These measures were originally introduced for a one year period in July 2014 and were extended until 31 January 2016 in June 2015 when the EU confirmed that the duration of the sanctions would be linked to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.  In the most recent announcement, the Council said that, since implementation will not be complete by the end of the 2015, the duration of the sanctions should be prolonged to allow the Council to continue its assessment of progress in the implementation of the agreements. 

The Council Decision amending the validity period of the sanctions was published on 22 December and came into force upon publication.  Specifically, this extends Council Decision 2014/512/CFSP, which in turn forms the basis of Regulation 833/2014, the regulation which imposes the so-called sectoral sanctions (which restrict certain activities in relation to, inter alia, the Russian energy sector and particular entities' access to capital markets).

For details of the restrictions imposed by the EU's sectoral sanctions, please refer to our previous e-bulletins here and here.

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The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action relating to Iran's nuclear programme (the "JCPOA") officially came into effect on 18 October ("Adoption Day"), requiring all JCPOA participants to make the necessary arrangements and preparations for implementation of their respective JCPOA commitments.  In this briefing, we summarise the most recent steps taken by the US and EU under the JCPOA.

In the case of both the EU and US, there have been no immediate changes to the legislative position and all sanctions continue to apply.

For further background on the JCPOA, please see our previous briefing.

Our full e-bulletin is available here.

For more information, please contact Susannah Cogman, Partner, Daniel Hudson, Partner, Jonathan Cross, Of Counsel, Elizabeth Head, Senior Associate, Justin Schenck, Associate or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Susannah Cogman
Susannah Cogman
+44 20 7466 2580
Daniel Hudson
Daniel Hudson
+44 20 7466 2470
Jonathan Cross
Jonathan Cross
Of Counsel
+1 917 542 7824
Elizabeth Head
Elizabeth Head
Senior Associate
+1 917 542 7828
Justin Schenck
Justin Schenck
+1 917 542 7825