Well, here we are. 8 months after the UK’s vote to leave, the divorce proceedings between Britain and the EU have finally begun. Brexit is officially upon us, and it looks like Theresa & The Gang have managed to put together a bit of a plan.
This White Paper, shared by the government last week is a 12-point plan about how we will exit from the EU and what Britain can hope to achieve. It states that businesses will not have to worry about any “overnight” changes to trading laws, but with the confirmation that our intent is to leave the single market, it’s no surprise that businesses across the UK and overseas are starting to panic.
It’s like the British public are the children in the back seat of a car journey, lost in the middle of the countryside, listening to their parents arguing.
The fact of the matter is, we all know we’re lost. Maybe Dad is too proud to admit it, and is pretending he knows the way. Maybe Mum is saying it’ll all be okay, manically trying to get the SatNav to work. But we’re all in the backseat; all aware that we are completely lost, putting our faith in our parents to find our way home.
So, why didn’t we think this through before holding a referendum?
The answer is simple: no one saw it coming.
Sure, we talked about it. Endlessly.
But in the wake of the referendum, the British population was stunned.
Few expected the Leave campaign to succeed, even those who voted to leave the EU. In fact, according to polling, seven in ten voters expected a victory for Remain, including 54% of those who voted to leave.
“I’m shocked and worried”, one Leave voter said the day after the referendum. “I voted Leave but I didn’t think my vote would count. I never thought it would actually happen.”
This statement is alarming at first, and taken at face value, a Remain voter could get quite unnerved questioning why a person would vote for something they didn’t necessarily think was a good idea.
In fact, this one post-referendum remark serves to explain how we got to where we are today.
The British public felt disillusioned; completely sick of the government bureaucracy that has plagued the UK and its people for a very long time. After a decade of grinning and bearing it (also known as “Keep Calm & Carry On”) something was bound to happen. Given the chance to throw a giant, socio-political and economical spanner in the works, a large chunk of the population would always have taken it.
In order to exit from the EU, we must give a notice period of two years. This means that the actual date of an EU exit will not come until 2019; but businesses are already feeling the effects.
So, how will Brexit affect your business?
The intent of the government is to introduce The Great Repeal Bill. Once in place, EU Law will no longer apply directly to the UK.
Well, technically speaking. In fact, the Bill will transpose EU Law onto UK Law, allowing Parliament to determine which EU laws should be kept for the benefit of the UK and which should be modified or just “n/a”.
This raises a number of questions for businesses small, medium and large across the UK and overseas.
Theresa May has now made it clear that the UK intends to leave the single market along with the Customs Union to instead seek separate trade deals with the EU as well as international, non-EU member states.
Basically, we’ve dumped the EU but said we “still want to be friends” and will now begin swiping left and right on a Trade-Arrangement-Tinder for our next hook up. Look out world; the UK is single and ready to mingle.
For many UK businesses, this uncertainty is unsettling. They want to know on what terms they will be able to procure and pass goods and services to and from the EU - a pretty fundamental issue across a range of industries.
Funnily enough, Clarity & Certainty is one of the action points of the government’s Brexit plans. (Number 1 to be precise.)
The Prime Minister states that no businesses will be impacted by a sudden or significant change to the rules, but also expresses that it’s “important for business in both the UK and the EU to have as much certainty as possible as early as possible.”
Yes, we agree!
According to the White Paper - or as I call it, The Great British Brexit Plan, we will forge a new strategic partnership with the EU. This will include a “bold, wide-reaching and ambitious” free trade arrangement and “mutually beneficial” customs arrangements.
So, here’s to hoping it all goes to plan, eh?
A key area that many businesses are concerned about are the rights of EU nationals to stay working in the UK under their employment.
The government has stated that protecting and enhancing workers rights is a crucial element in the Great British Brexit Plan, and that The Great Repeal Bill will maintain the protections and standards that currently benefit workers.
However, with the promise to also place stricter controls on the free movement of EU nationals, taking precautions will certainly not be harmful to your business.
Depending on their circumstances, it may be possible for EU nationals working in the UK or UK nationals working in the EU to gain permanent residency or potentially dual citizenship. This could allow members of your staff to preserve their rights and continue working in the UK/EU regardless of Brexit.
If these employees don’t qualify for citizenship, they may still be able to apply for a residence card as proof of their legal right to live and work in that country.
When we leave the EU, it’s unlikely that British companies will be able to take advantage of the Cross-Border Mergers Directive. This directive exists to facilitate the mergers of EEA companies, provided that the transaction involves at least one UK company. Brexit could also raise procedural and legal issues for companies engaging into cross-border M&As if the UK regulatory framework differs considerably from EU standards and processes.
Aside from this, the greatest impact to cross-border corporate transactions will likely come from changes to Sterling exchange rate and an unsteady economy. A thorough assessment of the risks involved with your company’s merger or acquisition is absolutely essential, but the outcome will depend on the relationship we hold with the EU post-negotiations.
How can 360 Business Law help you?
Just as the British public grew tired of government bureaucracy, legal consumers have become disillusioned with the superfluous layers of management involved with traditional law firms. Tired of being charged steep hourly rates for what feels like minimal work, they endlessly browse the market looking for a better deal.
Traditional law firms are becoming increasingly aware of this issue, and it’s starting to become clear that the old way of operating just isn’t efficient anymore.
But unlike Brexit and the British public, we saw this coming. So, we decided to throw our own spanner in the works.
However, before we threw it, we put together a plan of our own.
A new legal solution for businesses that provides the highest quality advice from industry-leading specialists at a competitive rate. A new business model that brings people and technology together, disposing of the unnecessary bureaucracy and removing the costs of overheads.
Now, your business can have access to expert legal advice from globally recognised lawyers at the drop of hat. We don’t want to just “oversee your case” - we want to help your business by working with you to minimise risk, capitalise on opportunity and increase in profitability.
When you subscribe to our service, we will come to your business to assess your individual situation, your commercial objectives and your practical requirements. We’ll identify any potential hurdles your business may face: be they Brexit related or not, then work together to find tailored solutions that meet your needs.
As Bob Dylan once put it, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and we’re proud to be at the front of this positive change in the legal industry.
For tailored legal advice regarding how your business could be impacted by Brexit, get in touch with one of our business lawyers today on 01276 804432 to make an appointment.
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