REUTERS | Luke MacGregor

Brexit: October 2018 round-up

The pace of publication of Brexit statutory instruments (SIs) picked up this month. The government also continued to publish technical notices giving guidance to UK businesses and citizens on how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Brexit statutory instruments

The government increased the pace of publication of Brexit SIs in October. You can keep an eye on them via our Brexit statutory instruments tracker.

No-deal Brexit technical notices

The government continued to publish technical notices giving guidance to UK businesses and citizens on how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit in October. These included notices on:

  • Consumer rights. The notice considers the impact of a no deal on the wider consumer legislative framework and how this will affect the protection available to consumers.
  • Geo-blocking. The notice outlines the government’s approach to the Unjustified Geo-blocking Regulation ((EU) 2018/302) if the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 without an agreement.
  • Accounting and audit. The notice is intended to explain the implications for accounting, corporate reporting and audit in the event that the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place.
  • Existing free trade agreements. This notice sets out the government’s plans to ensure continuity in existing free trade agreements with non-EU countries if the UK and the EU fail to conclude a withdrawal agreement by the time of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Article 50 negotiations

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, gave a statement to the House of Commons following the European Council meeting of 17-18 October 2018 in which she stated that 95% of the withdrawal agreement and its protocols have been settled between the UK and EU negotiators. The Prime Minister described “one real sticking point left, but a considerable one”, which is how to guarantee that no hard border would return between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland if the future relationship is not in place by the end of the transition period. No date has been set for an additional European Council meeting before the next scheduled meeting on 13-14 December 2018.

International trade

On 25 October 2018, the Secretary of State for International Trade confirmed that some World Trade Organization (WTO) members have objected to the UK government’s proposed treatment of tariff rate quotas (TRQs) in the draft UK goods schedule. The following day, the Chair of the International Trade Committee published a response stating that the draft UK goods schedule faced formal objections from some 20 countries, including the US, China, Australia and New Zealand. As a result, the government will have to undertake lengthy bilateral negotiations with each of those countries, and there is no chance of the matter being resolved before Brexit.

On 31 October 2018, COREPER (the EU’s Committee of Permanent Representatives) approved the text of the proposed EU Regulation that will apportion the EU’s TRQs for internal EU purposes in the event that the EU-WTO negotiations are still ongoing when the amended schedules need to apply post-Brexit.

The Ministry of Justice, Tribunal Procedure Committee is seeking views on possible changes to the Upper Tribunal Rules 2008 arising from trade remedies appeals after the UK’s exit from the EU. The consultation closes on 14 December 2018.

HMRC has also published high-level guidance on customs processes and procedures likely to apply if the UK exits the EU without a withdrawal agreement. The guidance is addressed to traders (small and large) and the various intermediaries (for example, customs agents and freight forwarders) engaged in international trade.

Legal services

On 22 October 2018, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Legal and Constitutional Affairs published a report on the effect of Brexit on legal services. The report makes ten recommendations to the government, and comments on the main themes and concerns raised in its preceding inquiry. These include the ability to practise as a lawyer in the EU, the importance of labour mobility, the need for legal certainty and transitional arrangements, and the importance of avoiding a no-deal scenario.

Competition: state aid

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published a speech on the preparations that it is making for its new role as the post-Brexit state aid authority for the UK on 30 October 2018. The CMA is recruiting new staff, who will mainly work within a new dedicated state aid group and is introducing a new IT solution to accept notifications and reports about aid. It expects that many of the key elements of the EU system, including pre-notification discussions, annual reporting of aid, transparency of aid measures, complaints and evaluations, will be included in the domestic system.

Practical Law In-house Miriam Kenner

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