The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020 with a transition period to 31 December 2020, to allow for negotiation between the EU and UK regarding the exit terms and future relationship.
The UK joined the then EC in 1973, alongside Ireland and Denmark. After close to five decades of ever closer integration, the task of untangling the complex and extensive overlap between UK and EU laws, particularly on the island of Ireland, is far from straightforward. There are of course many intended consequences which businesses must address, but as time goes on there will inevitably be many unintended consequences of the UK's exit, which will also need to be addressed as they become clearer.
We continue to support our clients on the legal and business ramifications arising from the UK's decision to leave the EU. Regardless of which sector your business operates in, action is required with regards to the movement of personal data between the UK and EEA states, the protection of intellectual property rights and updating commercial contracts to ensure they are still fit for purpose.
There will clearly be a big impact to the banking and financial services sectors, as well as to the energy sector, including the regulatory regime that underpins these sectors. A further concern continues to be the rules underpinning cross-border mergers and acquisitions.
Brexit and Ireland
Brexit has been described as Ireland’s biggest foreign policy challenge to date. While the UK vote has not meant an immediate change to the legal relationship between the UK and the EU as a result of the 12-month transition period, the task of disentangling the UK legal system from the EU has required new legislation both in Ireland and at the supranational EU level, with implications for Irish businesses. It is now imperative businesses consider the legal consequences for their operations and to plan for the post-Brexit future and adjust business practices and arrangements as necessary. It will also require deep assessment of strategic plans for transactions and investment involving the UK.
Aside from the legal consequences, there are real opportunities for Ireland to attract foreign direct investment away from the uncertain future of the UK and to promote Dublin as an alternative stable financial hub to London. Some of this movement away from the UK has already taken place, with likely more to follow as an inevitable result of their altered access to the Single Market. Ireland is now the only English speaking country in the EU with strong ties to the US so there are clear advantages for Ireland as a potential alternative location within the EU for UK-based financial institutions where EU passporting rights are central to their operations and for US businesses seeking an English speaking EU base. There are similar merits for businesses currently based in the UK with regards to data storage and processing, where Ireland, as a global tech hub, has significant advantages.
We continue to assess the implications of Brexit for businesses in Ireland.
To aid in understanding the present situation, we have outlined the possible changes for some sectors and legal practices in our dedicated Brexit section.