As a corporate and commercial lawyer, a number of my clients called me in a panic the day after the Brexit Referendum and asked nervously what were the effects of Brexit on their business deals, their employees, their supply agreements, their lending facilities and the questions went on and on. That same day Lloyds Bank stopped processing all the mortgages they were funding. A number of acquisitions stopped dead in their tracks. Uncertainty is bad for business and Brexit brought a huge dollop of uncertainty to the business arena causing the value of the pound sterling to drop significantly overnight. They were valid questions and I too wanted answers. When I started to research their questions no one had actually written in detail about this, probably because no one really could believe Brexit would occur, which prompted me to take up the mantle. I decided to invite leading lawyers in their specialist field to contribute to this book and examine the legal issues arising from Brexit. I also believed it was important to interview thought leaders from various sectors – retail, manufacturing, pensions, finance, science, academia to get a finger on the pulse of the UK nation and draw on the combined expertise and experience of the professions and thought leaders across a wide range of practice areas.
My book, “Doing Business Post Brexit” aims to be a guidance book, a mind map and a prompt, providing you with an insight as to what I anticipate may be the legal changes in the event of a hard Brexit. It is not prescriptive and nor should it be relied upon as legal advice as, at the time of writing, Article 50 has not been invoked yet. However, it should give you some pointers as to what to look out for and what to ask your legal advisers to review. It is always good business practice to regularly review your business. In the same way that you send cars for an MOT, how often do you or your advisers conduct a business MOT? Your business is far more valuable that your car and it should be good practice to check your legal documents regarding commercial ventures regularly to ensure the contract is still profitable and worthwhile and, if not, how can they be terminated? How about your employees – do they still have the right to work in the UK? With the pound sterling depreciating, how has that affected your finances, stock prices and ultimate sale prices? Do you have an EU Trademark and if so, if in the event of a Brexit where the UK will no longer be covered under the EU Trademark, this intellectual property will need to be registered under the UK Intellectual Property Office regime to protect your priority in the UK. How about property, finance, insurance, tax, data requirements? And will these need to be revised or monitored in the event of Brexit? Whilst these questions are raised in the context of Brexit, I would stress that these questions are not just Brexit related – they are commercially and legally important issues to think about to ensure your business is in the best possible long-term health and to ensure it maintains stability in the uncertainty of the business world – whether it concerns Brexit, Trump's presidency or other political changes in the world.
This book will be a living breathing publication which will need revision in the future. The range of expertise on which these papers are based is considerable, involving practitioners from commercial law, intellectual property, media, employment law, tax, employment and insolvency. The contributors to this book have given freely of their time to serve the public interest by helping to manage the impact of Brexit on business and by promoting legal education about Brexit and its consequences.
This book will not take a position on leaving or remaining in the EU but when interviewing CEOs and business leaders they are free to give their views if they so choose. As a representative for my fellow lawyers I wrote this book to identify the key legal issues which my colleagues and I believe need to be addressed by businesses in order to facilitate a transition that minimises the risk of legal uncertainty, the loss of rights, and possible adverse consequences to the national economy, and capitalises on the opportunities for post-Brexit global Britain.
It is clear that there is a great deal of work to be done. This book gives an insight into the scale of the task that lies ahead and pleas for businesses to be vigilant rather than just burying their heads in the sands, thinking Brexit will bypass them. Brexit will affect everyone and every business.
My interest is in helping businesses to ensure that they are ready for the world post-Brexit and not to be caught out. I sincerely hope that when I review my client’s business, I can deliver the best deal possible for them. Given the ever changing scene, to provide you with the most up to date news on Brexit, please follow my website www.brexitbrexitbrexit.com.
Helen Tse BA(Hons) Cantab, MA(Hons) Cantab, DPhil, MBE, Solicitor is the author of Doing Business After-Brexit: A Practical Guide to the Legal Changes.