News & Insights

Is your organisation prepared for the impact of Brexit? 

This article is featured in the Winter 2020 issue of the Business Voice magazine.

While Brexit has featured prominently on the agenda for most organisations over the last four years, the continued uncertainty around what it will really mean for business has deterred many from taking action.  With the end of the transition period just over a month away, we have prepared a summary of some of the key legal issues for organisations to consider:

  • Personal data– Do you receive personal data from the EEA? If by the end of the transition period the EU hasn’t made an adequacy decision to allow personal data to continue to flow freely between the EEA and the UK, it will not be possible to continue sending personal data from the EEA to the UK unless you fall within one of the conditions set out in article 49 of the GDPR or you have put in place “appropriate safeguards”. In many cases, this will mean having to incorporate the EU’s standard contractual clauses (SCCs) into any contracts under which personal data is being transferred to the UK.

The ICO’s website is a good source of further guidance:

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-at-the-end-of-the-transition-period/data-protection-at-the-end-of-the-transition-period/

If your business intends to sell goods and services to EU citizens after 1 Jan 2021 you will also need to consider appointing an EU-based authorised representative for the purpose of data privacy compliance.

  • Key trading contracts– Exchange rate fluctuations and the imposition of tariffs could undermine the profitability of your trading contracts overnight. You have probably be mindful of this for some time but where a deterioration of trading conditions has the potential to cause serious harm to your business, you should check your key contracts to assess what clauses you can rely on to protect your position or, in the worst case scenario, how easy it would be to exit those contracts which become too onerous.  If termination becomes the only viable way forward, it is important to check the procedure which must be followed to make sure you do this correctly.
  • Staffing  – It may be that you need a sponsor licence to hire EU nationals under the UK’s new immigration system, or you could be concerned as to whether any EU staff have the correct status to remain in the UK.  Immigration is a key area of challenge arising from Brexit.  The FSP website has key information and updates on this topic as well as a specialist team to provide advice: https://www.fsp-law.com/business/immigration/
  • Trade marks – Any trade marksused in your business which are already registered in the EU will be recognised in the UK following the end of the Brexit transition period. If you have an ongoing EU trade mark application which has not been completed by the end of the transition period, you will have a 9 month grace period from 1 January 2021 to re-apply in the UK to register so as to retain the priority date of your EU application. A similar regime will apply to EU registered designs.
  • Online businesses– If you are an online business established in the UK but operating in the EEA, you will need to check whether any licences are necessary to continue operating in those EEA countries and consider how, moving forward, you are going to keep up to date with changes to EU rules on issues such as online information, advertising, shopping and contracting, given that the UK won’t necessarily adopt the same changes.

More detailed guidance for businesses on dealing with the impact of Brexit can be found on our Brexit: Spotlight page.

For a no-obligation discussion about how we might be able to support your organisation through these challenging times please contact us: enquiry@fsp-law.com.

This article is featured in the Winter 2020 issue of the Business Voice magazine.