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    22 March 2021

    Brexit – Impact to Businesses

    In December 2020, the UK Government announced that they had reached a trade deal with the European Union, known as the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). Since 1 January 2021, businesses have had to adapt and make changes in line with the TCA.

    Steeles Law’s commercial solicitor, Alistair Ponder, looks at the key areas of impact Brexit will have on British businesses.

    Trade

    When the transition period ended on 31 December 2020, the UK ceased to be a member of the EU single market and customs union.  This could have meant that additional duties would be payable on exports from the UK.  However, the UK and EU agreed a free trade agreement.  The TCA which is now in place, establishes zero tariffs or quotas on trade between the UK and the EU, meaning such trade will receive preferential treatment provided the goods meet the ‘rules of origin’.  UK exports will not be subject to additional customs duties and there will not be a limit on the number of goods that can be traded between the UK and EU.  There are separate rules regarding the import and export of goods to and from Northern Ireland.  If the goods do not meet the ‘rules of origin’, customs duties may apply and there may be quotas which limit the amount of the goods that can be traded.

    Businesses will need to apply for an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number if moving goods between the UK and EU.

    The ‘rules of origin’ mean that a product must originate from the UK or EU to qualify for preferential treatment.

    Employees

    The freedom of movement of workers that the UK experienced with EU countries has been removed and there are new rules relating to EU employees. The rules for visa eligibility are based on a point-based system.

    Product Certification

    The TCA also makes changes to product certification marks.  The ‘UKCA’ mark will replace the ‘CE’ mark on goods sold within Great Britain.  There is a one-year transition period from 1 January 2021 to allow goods with CE marking to be sold.  For some products, there is an extended transition period.

    Trademark Protection

    Businesses that have a registered EU trademark (EUTM) will now need to apply for separate UK trademarks as well as EU rights.  From 1 January 2021 EUTMs no longer protect UK trademarks.  The Intellectual Property Office has created a comparable UK trademark for right holders with an existing EUTM.

    There are no changes to UK registered trademarks.

     GDPR

    Prior to 31 December 2020, the EU GDPR were incorporated into UK law under the Data Protection Act 2018 (‘DPA’).  Despite the UK no longer being part of the EU, the DPA remains in full force and effect, as it is UK legislation, and it operates under exactly the same central principles as the GDPR.

    It is important to note that impact Brexit will have will vary from business to business. If you would like any advice on the impact to your businesses, please contact our commercial team on 01603 598000 or email commercial@steeleslaw.co.uk.

    *Please note that this article does not cover the impact to businesses situated in Northern Ireland, which has separate rules which apply.

    **The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

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