Our Head of International, Katie Hay, urges us to think about how Brexit might have an impact on us all.

When the EU Commission began publishing a range of “Brexit preparedness” notices in late 2017, and urging businesses to begin preparing for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, I don’t think I was the only person to think that it seemed a little premature – after all, at that point the undesirability of a cliff-edge Brexit seemed to be about the only thing that most people agreed on.

Then, when the UK Government went on to publish their technical notices between August and October, each began with the reassurance that “while a no-deal Brexit was unlikely …” before setting out what the position would be in various sectors should the UK become a third country on 29 March 2019.

However, the last quarter of 2018 has seen the timeline for approval and ratification of the withdrawal agreement be pushed back to the point where we will all be tucking into our Christmas dinners without knowing whether our sprouts will be coming from Brussels next year or not.

It is therefore now absolutely vital that if you haven’t already done so, you apply some serious thought to how Brexit might impact you, your business and your area of practice.

The best place to start for this is with the government’s technical notices. Of relevance to the profession are the notices that have a bearing on various areas of practice (handling civil, commercial and family cases, intellectual property matters, oil and gas, and farming and fishing to name a few), as well as the notice on professional services and mutual recognition of qualifications, which includes specific reference to the legal profession and practice rights.

You can access all of the notices here. The services notice can be accessed here.

For business owners, Scottish Enterprise has created a Brexit self-assessment tool to identify what you can do now to prepare your firm or company for business post-Brexit. You can access it alongside various other sources of advice and information at www.prepareforbrexit.scot.

While perhaps not the Christmas reading you had in mind, I recommend that you begin 2019, if not exactly prepared, then at least aware of the issues that will arise if we leave the EU on 29 March without the buffer of a transitional period.

In the New Year, as well as running a series of focus groups for our high street members in various locations, we are planning a series of Brexit-themed webinars looking at various practice areas. We will also publish regular updates on political developments. If, however, you have any other queries or concerns, please do get in touch and I will do my best to answer any questions you have.

In the meantime, I hope you have an enjoyable and restful holiday season.