Here we'll be bringing you the latest developments in the Brexit process, as both the UK and EU try to reach an agreement on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal. Our Brexit policy page highlights all of our latest briefings, responses and position papers on Brexit-related legislation and parliamentary inquiries. We've also created a Brexit Q&A, which we will continue to update at every stage of the process.
As things currently stand, the UK and the EU will attempt to negotiate an agreement on our future relationship by the end of 2020, following the UK's formal departure from the EU on 31 January. Until then, a transitional period until 31 December 2020 will ensure that EU laws will still apply to the UK and the European Communities Act 1972 will still be in force. However, given the breadth of Free Trade Agreements generally, coupled with the undertaking that any UK/EU agreement will be particularly ambitious in scope, it is possible that not all areas of law and legal practice will be given detailed consideration at this stage. Our webinar series and our research paper on the future impact and effect of Brexit on Scots Law and the Scottish legal system highlight the relevant issues to consider until such time as a fully comprehensive agreement is in place.
We'll also be highlighting the latest publications from relevant and reliable sources of interest. For any further information, or if you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Head of International, Katie Hay, at email@example.com or 0131 476 8351.
Our Brexit webinar series looks at the impact of the UK’s departure from the EU on Scots law and legal practice. While the UK and the EU will attempt to negotiate an agreement for our future relationship throughout 2020 after the UK's formal departure on 31 January, given the breadth of areas it will need to cover, it is possible that the agreement reached will not be sufficiently detailed to cover all aspects of legal practice and further negotiation will be necessary. As a result it is still a good idea to familiarise yourself with the material we prepared in the event of a no-deal Brexit, in case no agreement is reached on these areas of law by the end of the year.
On 25 February 2020, the EU published its mandate for negotiations with the UK on the future relationship. The UK government published its mandate two days later. The two sides' mandates look to build on the Political Declaration, which was agreed in October 2019. Negotiations formally began on 2 March. So far, 5 rounds of negotiations have been timetabled – two in March, two in April and one in May, each lasting between 3 and 4 days and alternating between Brussels and London. Both parties have published identical terms of reference for negotiations, as well as an agenda for the first round. Among other things these set out eleven negotiating ‘groups’, each dealing with a different substantive topic for negotiation.
The Conservative Party won a decisive majority of 80 seats in the UK General Election on 12 December - the biggest Tory majority since 1987. In Scotland, however the Conservatives lost 7 of the 13 seats they previously held to the SNP, which won 47 out of the 59 Scottish seats.
This means that when the new Parliament votes on the government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Friday 20 December, it should gain enough support to pass into law in time for the UK to end its EU membership on 31 January. The government will then have until the end of the transition period on 31 December either to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU or agree an extension to the negotiation period, otherwise the trade relationship will default to World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.
The EU Commission has published its mandate for negotiations with the UK on the future relationship.
The Ministry of Justice has published a Get Ready for Brexit Toolkit for Lawyers, which is essentially an inventory of all of the guidance it has published relating to practice areas and practice rights. You can access it here.
The Scottish Government has published a series of advisory notices on the effect of a no-deal Brexit on devolved areas of law. You can access these notices here.
As the threat of leaving the EU with no deal in place intensifies, the volume of publications advising businesses, professionals and citizens of the impact of no-deal on various aspects of Brexit has increased sharply and there is too much too continue to list in date order. Here is a selection of latest publications as well as links to sources of further information.
The UK Government updated its guidance on the rights and status of UK nationals living and travelling in the EU. It also updated its partnership pack for businesses with further information about preparing for changes at the UK border after a ‘no deal’ EU exit.
On 20 December the UK Government published a separation agreement with the EEA EFTA states (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), the aim of which is to protect the rights of citizens who have chosen to call each other’s countries home; and also to resolve a small number of other issues arising from the UK’s exit from the EU.
Scottish Enterprise has launched its own “specially designed Brexit self-assessment tool”. Its purpose is to help businesses identify how Brexit might affect them, providing bespoke recommendations for action to help their planning activities. It will also be home to the Brexit 15-point checklist, news, articles, access to experts and event listings. Further information is available here.