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The Government publishes yet more guidance on a "no deal Brexit" - but a study finds nearly two thirds of UK businesses have not started preparing

16 October 2018
The Government has now published over 100 technical notices designed to inform individuals and businesses on how to prepare for a "no deal Brexit".

A study conducted by the British Chamber of Commerce has found 62% of businesses surveyed have not yet even assessed how their operations will be affected by a "no deal Brexit".

The latest technical guidance notes were published on the Government's website on Friday 12 October and Monday 15 October, either side of a surprise meeting between Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and Michel Barnier, European Chief Negotiator which failed to secure a breakthrough.

Raab said of the latest technical guidance notes: "We have now published over 100 technical notices giving individuals, businesses, public bodies and NGOs information and guidance in the unlikely event of a no deal."

These latest notes cover the "no deal Brexit" landscape for consumer protection, climate change requirements, trading in electricity, commercial fishing, business structures, rules around breeding animals, accounting, rail safety and the funding for overseas territories.

They are supplementary to the notes published on 24 September which covered aviation security, commercial road haulage, importation of animals, the labelling of food, the 

regulation of chemicals, copyright, patents, trademarks, low carbon energy, veterinary medicines and travelling within the Common Travel Area by British and Irish citizens and what actions should be taken by UK citizens, businesses and the public sector. They also build upon the early tranches of notes published on 23 August and 13 September. 

Yet with less than six months to go until the UK leaves the EU, the British Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Bibby Financial Services has carried out a study which shows 62% of businesses have not conducted a Brexit risk assessment. This number rises to 69% for micro-businesses and falls to 24% for businesses with over 250 employees.

Highlights from the latest Government technical guidance notes on "no deal Brexit" include:

  • Consumer Protection: The government is taking steps to ensure that after exit UK consumers will retain the protections they currently have. For purchases from UK businesses this means making certain changes in UK legislation through the EU Withdrawal Act but the paper acknowledges there may be an impact when consumers make purchases from the EU.


  • Meeting Climate Change Requirements: there is no change to the UK’s deep commitment to domestic and international efforts to tackle climate change. The UK’s Climate Change Act is domestic legislation and will be unaffected by exiting the EU and the UK will remain a party to international climate change agreements.


  • Audit and Accounting: UK businesses with a branch operating in the EU will be required to comply with specific accounting and reporting requirements for third country businesses in whichever Member State they operate.


  • Economic Sanctions: the UK will carry over all EU sanctions at the time of our departure and implement future sanctions regimes through the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the Sanctions Act). The Act will provide the legal basis for the UK to impose, update and lift sanctions after leaving the EU.


  • Rail Transport: the UK is seeking mutual recognition of all necessary documentation so that operators from the UK and the EU can continue to operate cross-border services without disruption after exit.


  • Funding for Overseas Territories: the Government will underwrite EU-funded programmes where funding was committed whilst the UK is a member of the EU. There will also be some funds where access (for example as a third country) is available up to the end of 2020.


Notable sections from the notes published on 24 September include: 

  • Funding for Extra-Territorial Cooperation projects: the Government will underwrite Extra-Territorial Cooperation projects which were awarded under a grant funding agreement prior to the date the UK leaves the EU.


  • Aviation Security: the UK will ensure that the current Aviation Security regulations and procedures are incorporated into domestic law under the EU Withdrawal Act, which it hopes will allow a platform for these to be recognised by the EU as equivalent, which would mean no additional security restrictions would need to be imposed by either the EU or the UK. If this is not successful then there will be implications for passengers and cargo.


  • Vehicle Insurance: the UK would no longer be part of the UK Green Card free circulation area, so anyone driving within the EU, EEA, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland would need to obtain and carry a Green Card as proof of third party motor insurance cover.


  • Producing and Labelling Food: Initially, the EU-based provisions would all be rolled over, as part of the Withdrawal Act, and fixed where necessary by statutory instrument so the rules apply as before with some modifications (for instance the 'made in the EU' would change to 'made in the UK'). Natural Mineral Water is currently the subject of mutual recognition provisions (affecting both import and export) which would need to be negotiated in the event of a no deal.


  • Copyright: Although the EU Directives and Regulations on copyright and related rights will be preserved in UK law as retained EU law under the powers in the EU Withdrawal Act 2018, UK businesses and citizens will find that as the UK is treated as a third party to the EU it will be more difficult to obtain information and enforce. For instance, there will be no obligation for EEA states to provide database rights to UK nationals, residents, and businesses. UK owners of UK database rights may find that their rights are unenforceable in the EEA.


All of the Government's "No Deal Brexit" technical guidance notes can be found at https://www.gov.uk/  

DWF is a leading international law firm whose experts have extensive experience of EU law, Brexit and Government affairs.


Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any issues arising from the above article.

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