Following the approval by the EU of the Withdrawal Agreement on Wednesday 29 January 2020, the UK is set to leave the EU at 11pm on 31 January 2020. In this short insight we consider the consequences of Brexit for businesses and the next steps to prepare your business.

The transition period

The UK will enter a transition period starting on 1st February until 31 December 2020. This is intended to provide a time to start negotiating the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU. The UK will cease to be a member of the EU, but the trading relationship will remain unchanged and the UK will continue to adhere to EU law. The UK will be free to enter into new trade agreements with other countries, such as the US and Australia.  

The 11 month transition period can be extended by agreement.  However, if the UK and EU fail to agree to a trade deal by the end of the transition period, then the UK will start trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms. 

What should I be doing to prepare my business?

During the transition phase nothing will change in terms of how you should behave.  Compliance with EU and UK legislation should continue.  The ICO has also confirmed that there will be no need for an EU representative for companies which process personal data and trade with the EU at this stage.  

Post the transition period it is expected that new trade arrangements will impact on tariffs on goods and services, supply chain arrangements, registration and enforcement of registered intellectual property rights, product regulation, transfer and processing of personal data, tax, funding,  grants, employment of staff and likely some existing legal contracts. 

At this stage we don’t know the full picture.   We recommend businesses use the following toolkit and initial guidance which can be adapted for your business to help identify the specific areas to focus on:

https://www.gov.uk/business-uk-leaving-eu

How can we help you?

Once you have identified the key areas, we can help you produce a plan of legal issues and actions to get prepared.  This might include a review of all sales, supply and IP related contracts for required changes post departure, advice on registered IP rights changes and potential areas of change around data processing.  We can offer fixed price in counsel services to help support these types of projects. 

Please get in touch with Rebecca Steer Rebecca.steer@steerandco.com for further information.

What happens next?

We will be following the negotiations during the transition period closely and plan to publish further updates.