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2018 ends like it started - in the depths of a political blizzard on the future relationship between the UK and the EU

2018 ends like it started - in the depths of a political blizzard on the future relationship between the UK and the EU

Throughout 2018 we’ve been closely engaged with our clients on Brexit – in particular advising them on how best to plan for the risks associated with a ‘No Deal’ scenario.

Given the high level of uncertainty and the potential costs involved in fully mitigating all risks, many clients have opted instead to carry out their own Brexit risk assessment looking at key areas such as reliance on imports/exports, a supply chain audit, contract review and, of crucial importance for many businesses, engaging with EU nationals on their workforce to assist where they can in giving more certainty on future rights.  As a result many clients now have a much better understanding of their business and some of the risks they have to manage regardless of the final political agreement.

In addition to our updates on practical legal aspects on Brexit, we’ve also spoken to high-profile industry figures in some of the key areas of Scotland’s economy that are likely to be affected – including oil & gas, food & drink and financial services as well as international trade. If you missed any of the ‘Experts on Brexit’ series then you can check the videos and blogs again here.

So how have we been advising clients on practical issues around Brexit?

  • Our employment and immigration team is very busy dealing with concerns about the impact on both employers and employees in the workplace, offering strategic advice for boards and practical help on applying for visas to staff
  • Construction sector clients have been concerned about risks posed by delays in obtaining materials as well as the rising cost of those materials, and we’ve been advising them on the best way to mitigate those risks. We haven’t seen a radical shift (yet) in how contracts, whether in the construction sector or otherwise, are being negotiated to deal with Brexit - but there are examples where new clauses have been requested to cover certain scenarios
  • We’ve been working with clients in the insurance sector in the transfer of policies to some of the EU27 jurisdictions (with Dublin and Luxemburg being the locations of choice for much of the insurance sector affected by this)
  • Conversely we’ve also been helping a client repatriate an insurance business from one of the EU27 to the UK
  • We have had a number of UK-based clients looking to set up a place of business in some of the EU27 to ensure that they will be able to continue to provide services within the EU27 no matter what shape the final Brexit deal takes.

Our clients continue to monitor the political solution scrupulously and hope for the best possible outcome - which of course means different things to different people. However, our job has always been to help prepare for any eventuality. Experience tells us that there will be opportunities for those who are best-prepared for change and uncertainty.

In many ways our message to clients has remained constant throughout. To be prepared for Brexit you should look at the key risks that are likely to have an impact on your business and then set about putting in place – wherever reasonable – steps to mitigate them.

Given the costs of doing so comprehensively you may choose to live with some risks until the political smoke clears, but at the very least that deeper understanding will put you in a far better position to respond quickly to whatever changes may impact your business. In the meantime if you have any Brexit-related queries please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.

As ever we are very grateful for the continued support of our clients and business partners, and I would like to wish you all a very merry festive season and a prosperous new year (regardless of the final Brexit outcome!).

By Peter Lawson

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