With the 23rd June fast approaching we are all being encouraged to vote for or against remaining in the EU. From a legal perspective, what might Brexit mean to your business?
What’s the current position?
Each EU country still has its own individual legal processes and courts. However, the EU makes decisions which affect each member state. The EU then passes directives which each individual country needs to adopt and implement as part of their own law. So, for example, the UK implemented the EU Working Time Directive (the maximum number of hours someone should work each week) in The Working Time Regulations (1998). The fact that the EU can do this means that being part of the EU certainly does have a big impact on your business from a legal perspective.
The EU’s ability to pass directives affects most aspects of your business. The law which helps the free movement of people and trade makes doing business within the EU and employing people from other EU countries much easier for EU member states than it otherwise would be. Many businesses within the UK rely on EU funding.
Are we better off with EU making laws which affect us?
Ultimately, every voter is being asked to make this decision as part of their voting process.
One political party is certainly placing a lot of emphasis about how, as a result of EU decisions we are generally better off. A good example of this relates to employees/workers. It’s certainly as a direct result of the EU directives that we have things like
- more paid holidays
- maternity, paternity, adoption and other family leave and pay
Another viewpoint asks whether we can say with certainty that the UK wouldn’t have made those choices alone and so reached the same point of view, without EU involvement? These directives came about as a result of campaigns for better conditions for workers across Europe, so while we may have implemented something similar in the UK, the process (and progress) would probably have been slower and the outcomes not the same.
So what situation might your business be faced with after the 23rd June?
Brexit – if we go?
Things that could affect your business if we leave include the laws relating to:
- EU funding
- Public procurement
- Employees, particularly any EU nationals you currently employ. This could include meeting qualifications requirements (will EU qualifications be recognised in the same way?)
- Import and export tax/VAT to the EU
- Import and export processes may change because of new borders forming
- Your business’ financing
- Community Trademarks
- Data protection
And if we stay?
Remaining in the UK could also see changes to our own legal system. For example, instead of each EU state having its own laws about business contracts, we may end up with a single law which could make it easier for EU states to trade together.
The truth is that nobody really knows what will happen whether we stay or leave. It will take time to exit the EU and exit plans will need to be carefully thought out and implemented.
However, if your business relies on trading/business within the EU then it is important that you start planning as soon as you can after the votes have been counted.
Keep in touch and we’ll keep you updated with steps your business needs to take after the 23rd June.