The United Kingdom (UK) officially left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020, but both parties have agreed on a transition period in which the UK will be considered part of the EU until 1 January 2021. European rules still apply in the UK until the end of this transition period. The UK government led by Boris Johnson has stated repeatedly that it was striving for a hard Brexit in which no trade agreement would be concluded between the EU and the UK. This could have significant consequences for you if your business partners are based in the UK, your company has a subsidiary or establishment in the UK and if you transport goods through or to the UK (supply chain) and vice versa.
The BUREN Brexit Desk team closely monitors the developments regarding Brexit. They can inform and advise you about the latest developments and help you implement changes further to new laws and regulations.
Below you will find links to publications of our Brexit Desk. They will tell you which measures could apply to you and contain practical advice.
Our experts can of course also assist you if you are affected by the consequences of Brexit. We can assist you with questions such as:
Financial law & investment management
Brexit will have a significant impact on the position of financial institutions in the Netherlands. After the transition period, licensed financial institutions established in the Netherlands (such as investment firms, managers, banks and insurers) will no longer be able to use a European passport. The rules on the outsourcing of activities by Dutch financial institutions to service providers established in the United Kingdom will also be affected. It could be necessary to use the “Temporary Permissions Regime” offered by the UK Financial Conduct Authority or to provide services in the UK via another route. Do you have any questions or do you need guidance? Please do not hesitate to contact one of our financial law specialists, they are up-to-date with all developments.
Depending on the outcome of the negotiations on a trade agreement between the EU and the UK, a hard Brexit does have far-reaching consequences for the levying of, among other things, value added tax, customs duties, social security law, personal income tax and corporate income tax. A large part of these taxes are based on European law, directives and regulations that will no longer apply in the UK. Our tax law specialists closely follow the developments regarding Brexit and the negotiations on a trade agreement and can advise you on the tax issues relevant to you.
Your company has a branch in the UK. What does Brexit mean for the people employed in or seconded to the UK? Should these employees be recalled? And what if British employees are employed by your company in the Netherlands or temporarily working for your company on secondment? Do you have to take action?
Employers should prepare for Brexit by identifying the types of employees/independent workers working within their company. Depending on the outcome of the negotiations on a trade agreement between the EU and the UK, Brexit could have significant labor law implications. This includes the free movement of employees, the freedom to provide services, social security rights, employment conditions (relating to seconded employees), pensions, etcetera. Our employment law specialists can assist you with these issues.
Commercial contracts and disputes
Depending on how the negotiations on a trade agreement between the EU and the UK turn out, the end of the transition period on 31 December, 2020 could or could not have a major impact on companies importing from and exporting to the UK. For example, British and European goods must still meet the same product standards until 31 December 2020, but this could change as from 1 January 2021, depending on whether or not a trade agreement will be concluded. It could mean that products you import from the UK are no longer automatically allowed on the EU market and vice versa. The same could be true with regard to product labeling. Also, import quotas could apply to products and costs will increase as a result of additional import and export operations and tariffs.
In addition, it is important to consider provisions on dispute resolution. Judgments rendered in the EU are directly enforceable in the UK until 31 December 2020. With the transition period the applicability will end in the UK of EU regulations providing for such direct enforceability. This could mean that you will have to consider another form of dispute resolution. It is therefore very important for any company trading with the UK to review their contracts with suppliers or customers in the UK before the transition period ends. In particular, it is important to check who is responsible for compliance with applicable product standards, such as the CE marking in the EU, and labeling requirements, and who should bear the additional costs of import or export. In addition, Brexit could also have consequences for the protection of intellectual property and trade secrets, privacy rules and the method of dispute resolution. To avoid unpleasant surprises in 2021, we recommend that you pay attention to these issues well in time. Do you have any questions or need help? Our legal specialists closely monitor all developments. They can advise and assist you in negotiations and disputes.
IP / IT and GDPR
Patents will not be affected by Brexit, as the UK remains a full party to the European Patent Convention. The UK Intellectual Property Office will convert existing EU trademark and design registrations into national British registrations. Trademark proprietors need not take any action. The starting point for a hard Brexit is that the principle of exhaustion of intellectual property rights remains recognized. Rights to goods put into circulation in the European Economic Area with the consent of the patent, trademark or design holder will be exhausted in the UK also after Brexit. However, goods placed on the market in the UK after the UK has left the EU will not necessarily be exhausted in the EEA, which provides opportunities to act against parallel imports from the UK.
In terms of privacy, in the event of a hard Brexit, the UK will be a third country where privacy is not necessarily guaranteed from an EU perspective. This means that when personal data are transferred to the UK, you must comply with the. requirements for secure data export set by the General Data Protection Regulation, such as concluding an EU model contract. Our IP / IT and AVG specialists can advise and help you with any questions you may have.
Mergers & Acquisitions
Brexit has a major impact on mergers and acquisition processes. What does Brexit mean in concrete terms for current, completed and future transactions? Can a proposed acquisition be canceled? Can the terms of a transaction be adjusted?
Given all the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, companies from the UK and companies from other European member states will want to guarantee their competitive position and the continuity of their activities as much as possible. A possible safeguard could be making strategic acquisitions or entering into joint ventures between parties from the UK and the EU. Will it gradually become more difficult for companies on both sides to find suitable acquisition candidates or partners? Will acquisition or cooperation processes that have been initiated be completed more quickly?
Our specialists of the Mergers & Acquisitions practice group can advise you on the impact of Brexit on your transactions and how you can best deal with this.
Export / customs
4 January 2021
A hard Brexit after all?
29 September 2020
Update: enforcement new definition of exporter postponed up till 1 January 2021
4 January 2021
A hard Brexit after all?
7 February 2020
Brexit: where do we stand tax wise?
10 December 2018
What about Brexit and financial institutions?
12 November 2018
Brexit Alert | Financial services
8 June 2016
Brexit: chances on the European continent
The United Kingdom (UK) officially left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020, but both parties have agreed on a transition period in which the UK will be