Rolling Back Red Tape in the UK

Red TapeOn 19 April 2017, the day after the UK Prime Minister’s surprise General Election announcement, the Red Tape Initiative (RTI) was quietly launched in Westminster.

Established by Rt Hon Sir Oliver Letwin MP, who was in overall charge of the Cabinet Office until July 2016 and briefly head of the Brexit Unit after the Referendum, the RTI is a non-partisan project, bringing together “all three major UK-wide political parties to forge a consensus on the regulatory changes that could benefit both businesses and their employees in a post-Brexit Britain”.

Its advisory panel consists of leading Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour politicians – leavers and remainers – and it has a legal panel of eight lawyers, six of whom are QCs.  We are pleased to be a member of that panel and Squire Patton Boggs will be providing pro bono legal assistance to the RTI.

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General Election 2017

The Prime Minister of the UK has unexpectedly announced that she intends to hold a General Election on 8 June.

Theresa May had repeatedly denied that she had intended to do so. She announced that she had changed her mind “recently and reluctantly” because “the country is coming together but Westminster is not”.

Triggering a General Election is no longer entirely straightforward as a matter of law. Before the 2010 election, a Prime Minister was free to call an election on demand, although under the British constitution, the ability to do so technically fell under the prerogative power of Her Majesty the Queen.

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50 Sent

If a couple had conceived on the evening of the Brexit referendum, there is a reasonable chance that the baby would be born on 29 March, the date on which the Prime Minister will finally trigger Article 50 and send notice to the European Council.  The Brexit gestation period from 23 June 2016 has not always been pleasant, and for many in the UK has led to spells of nausea.

At the risk of repeating a trite point, the act of triggering Article 50 does not cause significant changes in the legal relationship between the UK and the EU.  The UK is still bound by EU law up to and until the date of its departure at the end of March 2019, unless all 28 countries agree otherwise.

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Haven our cake and eating it

In a recent interview with Tax Analysts, Pascal Saint-Amans, director of the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, was asked how concerned he was that the UK will end up going the tax haven route following withdrawal from the EU.  He said:

“The U.K. wants companies to pay taxes — not much tax, because they want to be very competitive, and they have a very competitive system. Now, can they go much further in [terms of] competitiveness? Yes, they may cut their taxes a bit more, but there’s not much room [that] would drive dramatic change. The margin for slashing taxes is very limited because their taxes are already pretty low.”

So, not that concerned it would seem.

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UK Government Forced to Take Brexit to Parliament

Brexit UK EU referendum concept for out of Great Britain from rest European union and handwriting text what next written in chalkboard with chalk on flag, close up

By judgment of 24 January 2017, the Supreme Court has dismissed the government’s appeal against the Divisional Court’s judgment in R (on the application of Miller & Dos Santos) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. The court has held that parliamentary authority in the form of an Act of Parliament is required for the government to serve notice, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on the European Union, of the UK’s intention to begin its withdrawal from the EU. In spite of the defeat, the government remains committed to serving the notice by the end of March. This was the first time since the Supreme Court was formed in 2009 that a hearing has involved all 11 justices and the majority of them emphatically rejected the government’s case, although three out of the 11 judges did find in its favour.

To read more:

The implications of Brexit: changes on the horizon for Kolpak?

Passports, different types. Travel turism or customs concept background. 3d

As the UK currently prepares to leave the European Union, it is uncertain what the position will be with regards to many of the legal aspects of sports persons from countries inside Europe (or those outside Europe but that have an Association Agreement with Europe) planning to play or already playing their sport within the UK.

To see an article posted earlier on our Sports Shorts Blog.

Brexit means…..?

Houses of ParliamentThe High Court gave its judgment in the Article 50 judicial review proceedings on 3 November 2016.  The Court decided the UK Government does not have the power under the Crown’s prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 for the UK to withdraw from the European Union.  The Government has confirmed its intention to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court has said it will accept a leapfrog appeal (avoiding the intermediate step of a Court of Appeal hearing) and has reserved December 7th and December 8th for the hearing.  This will be the first time since the Supreme Court was formed in 2009 that a hearing will take place before all 11 justices, demonstrating the importance of the case.

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Brexit, Exit from Brexit and the loss of British Privileges as a legal consequence

In the wake of the impending Brexit declaration pursuant to Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) there have been extensive discussions as to whether any Brexit notice could itself be withdrawn during the two year notice period.  This question has been identified as a crucial issue by the Lord Chief Justice during the hearings in October (and the judgment handed down on 3 November 2016) in the case of The Queen on application of Santos & Miller v. Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (“Santos”) in which the Claimants are challenging the Government’s assertion that it is able to serve a valid notice of withdrawal pursuant to Article 50 TEU without being expressly authorised to do so by Act of Parliament.  One group of legal experts answers such question with a clear no, because Article 50 TEU does not explicitly provide for a right to withdraw the notice.  The other group of legal experts argues the answer is a clear yes, because Article 50 TEU does not explicitly prohibit a withdrawal of the Brexit notice.

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Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the European Union, the High Court has ruled

This means the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – beginning formal discussions with the EU – on its own.

Theresa May says the Brexit referendum and ministerial powers mean MP’s do not need to vote, but campaigners argue this is unconstitutional.

The government is expected to appeal.

The prime minister has said she will activate Article 50, formally notifying the EU of the UK’s intention to leave, by the end of next March. This follows the UK’s decision to back Brexit in June’s referendum by a margin of 51.9% to 48.1%.

The EU’s other 27 members have said negotiations about the terms of the UK’s exit – due to last two years – cannot begin until Article 50 has been invoked.

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said, if the court’s decision is not overturned, there could be “months and months” of parliamentary hurdles ahead.

The government is expected to appeal against the decision, with a further hearing to be held in the Supreme Court.

Here is a link to the full judgement.

Brexit – Where the FX Are We?

Retail

UK retail has reportedly “shrugged off” Brexit, with August sales up 6.2% year-on-year. Sales to foreign tourists taking advantage of the weaker pound cannot, however, cancel out the longer-term flipside of costlier imports and rising suppliers’ prices. As our future in Europe remains uncertain even to those in charge of shaping it, retailers are asking what Brexit means for their commercial contracts. Clauses allocating the risk of future exchange rate changes are more common than express Brexit termination clauses. Retailers should check if they can rely on such clauses, or insist upon their future inclusion.

Read more from our Retail team in the latest edition of Retail Quarter.

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