Are you ready for Brexit?
As a business owner, business continuity is paramount to the sustainability and growth of your business. You will want to prepare fully for the eventualities that Brexit might bring.
This may not only be a strain on resources, but you also run the risk of missing opportunities to focus on the key areas of your business which may be affected by a no deal Brexit. We are now in a transition period until the end of 2020 and new rules may apply to you and your business from 2021.
In order to plan, like any other business continuity plan, think about the key areas of your business that are likely to be affected.
If there is a no deal Brexit, transfers of data to the EU will no longer have the benefit of falling into scope of GDPR which enables ease of movement of data within the EU. As such, you may need to review your data processing procedures and consider whether changes to your policy documentation are required.
If you rely on the protection of intellectual property law, such as copyright and trademarks, you should consider whether you have the required protection in the relevant countries. In some cases, where copyright is concerned, you may need a licence to broadcast data outside of the EU. If you have an EU trademark, this may no longer protect your mark in the UK. Get advice early in order to continue to protect your business interests.
If you run a large-scale online business, you may even need to appoint a representative in the EU.
2. Movement of personnel
Is your business an international business? Are you an international tech start up with foreign nationals working for you? If, so do they have a right to stay in the UK? If you are an EU citizen in the UK at the time the UK leaves the EU, you may be entitled to apply for status in the UK. Free movement as we know it will end in the event of a no-deal Brexit and therefore restrictions on how long EU citizens can stay to work will be restricted to 3 months. After this time, an application for temporary leave to remain should be applied for.
If you or your team travel habitually on business, a no deal Brexit may affect you. Consider who travels, to what countries and how often. Consider whether such travel is absolutely critical to the growth of the business.
Put these measures in place early to ensure continuity. You may not be able to travel if your passport has less than 6 months left to run.
Unless the UK negotiates a trade agreement with the EU, exports and imports of goods between the UK and the EU will be hit by custom duties and import VAT. If your business imports and exports goods, it is likely that these duties will affect you.
With Brexit now well and truly in process the government has launched its EU Exit Hub which is designed to direct businesses to the right resources depending on their answers to seven key questions.
There is undoubtedly a period of considerable uncertainty for UK businesses, which is not good news for business continuity. However, the full impact of Brexit may be softened by the UK renegotiating replacement deals with the EU.
The great unknown is how favourable these will be and how long this will take as no one has done this before. In the meantime, consider the aspects of your business that will be affected and plan accordingly.
Erika Moralez-Perez is a Corporate/Commercial Lawyer with Gunnercooke LLP.
Associate tutor of In Professional Development