Doing Business with Europe: Contract Issues

The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union on 31 October 2019 meaning our relationship with the EU will be changing. With the deadline marching ever closer, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, Enterprise Europe Network and the Department for International Trade recently invited businesses to attend a series of events focusing on the UK’s changing relationship with Europe and how it might affect them.

As a result, the following checklist has been drawn from the expert advice of the Competition team at law firm Walker Morris. This checklist by Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership is designed to highlight key points that businesses might want to consider when reviewing their own contracts and legal relationships.

  • Audit

Audit your key customer and supplier contracts taking into consideration the territorial scope of the contract and whether the UK is incorporated as part of the EU. Establish if EU or UK law would apply to your contracts.

  • Currency

Consider the commercial impact of the UK’s changing relationship with the EU. For example, changes to tariffs, exchange rates or custom procedures. If you will be impacted by currency fluctuations, talk to your bank or financial adviser as well as customers and suppliers to see if you can spread the risk.

  • Remain Informed

Remain informed of VAT changes and dealing with HMRC.

  • Review Intellectual Property (IP)

Review IP including Copyright, Trade Marks, Patents and Design Rights and check that you will be protected when the UK leaves the EU. You can keep up to date with the changes via the Intellectual Property Office.

  • Supply Chain

To limit disruption to your supply chain disruption, consider Authorised Economic Operator Status and, if appropriate, apply for this now as it can be a lengthy process.

  • Resource

Consider whether you will need additional resources for extra paperwork and logistics. Give thought to if training will be required for staff or a contingency plan needs putting in place.

  • HR

Review your HR contracts and handbooks and look at how you can support EU staff applying for settled status.

  • Restructuring

If you are restructuring your business think about the scale and scope of your overseas operations. Give thought as to whether you should you transfer or replicate some functions to the EU or if should you work in partnership with an overseas partner.

  • Review

Regularly review your company’s position in the current situation amongst the senior management team and take preparatory steps where possible prior to 29 March 2019
to maintain business continuity.

  • Seek Advice

Access further information on the Department for Exiting the European Union website and the government’s sector specific guidance notices on how businesses should prepare for potential foreseeable situations. Remain up to date with news from trade bodies and take advice from professional advisers. Get in touch today.