News & Insights

Is your organisation prepared for the impact of Brexit? 

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

While Brexit featured prominently on the agenda for most organisations over the last four years, the uncertainty around what it meant for business deterred many from taking action. We have prepared a summary of some of the key legal issues for organisations to consider which are still applicable even after having left the EU:

  • Personal data– Do you receive personal data from the EEA? The EU and UK agreed to delay imposing data transfer restrictions for a period of 4 months while the EU assessed whether the regulations and systems in place in the UK were adequate. Preliminarily it appears the EU has deemed the UK to be adequate but in the event this decision is not upheld, the UK will need to adhere to the EU GDPR restrictions in place which is likely to mean putting 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:

If your business sells goods and services to EU citizens 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:
  • Trade marks – Any trade marks used in your business which were already registered in the EU will have been recognised in the UK following the end of the Brexit transition period. If you had an ongoing EU trade mark application which had 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: [email protected].

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