The ‘B word’. The past twelve months have been so bizarre that we might have been forgiven for forgetting about Brexit. Business owners, however, have been bombarded with information around how rules have changed following the UK’s departure from the EU.
Taking into account the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic – seeing us staying at home far more than usual – as a nation we have had a lot time to get up to speed with what Brexit actually means for us as individuals and for businesses. Instead, most of us have probably thought about the ‘legal hassle’ involved, reached for the television remote and slumped back into the sofa before clicking onto episode 2 of season 3 of our favourite TV series. For the third time. This week.
If that sounds like you, not to worry. Here are five of the most important points for your business to bear in mind as you try to make the most of the ‘Brexit Bounce’:
1. It’s business as usual. Sort of. Although we have left the European Union and the Coronavirus is having an ongoing effect on the economy, some businesses have been able to thrive. If you are forming a new business or taking this opportunity to expand into new ventures, then getting your corporate structure right from the beginning could help to maximise your chances of success.
2. Your people are your most important resource. Whether you are a large established business or a small start-up, making sure that your employment practices and employment contracts are up to date is always a great idea. Brexit could mean that the employment law landscape changes in the future and if, like most, you do not have the time to run your business and be an employment law expert, why not take legal advice from an actual employment law expert?
3. Review your contracts and agreements. Many businesses have terms and conditions, agreements with suppliers or agreements with customers that might need updating to reflect Brexit, even if you only trade within the UK. Given the complex and ever-changing legal landscape it is always good practice to keep these documents under review by working with your lawyer, perhaps now more than ever!
4. Try to remember that Brexit (and the Coronavirus) will not last forever. Perhaps you are a commercial landlord and your otherwise-stellar tenant has hit some financial hardship and can’t pay the rent this quarter. Perhaps you have a regular client who will be a few days late in meeting payment under a contract because they are waiting for a business interruption or ‘bounce back’ loan. It is important to consider whether it is worth taking a practical view in some instances but you should also seek advice to ensure that any concession is given in the right way and without prejudicing your position further than it should. You should always take legal advice before granting a ‘rent holiday’, allowing for late payments or taking any other action which might prohibit your rights under any agreement.
5. Don’t forget about GDPR. If you thought that Brexit would mean that we could forget about the GDPR data protection rules you are sadly mistaken. Our own data protection laws still very closely mimic the EU’s regulations in this and other areas, although they could change soon. Ensuring compliance with data protection rules is essential; failure to do so can lead to substantial fines for your business.
The Government has also published extensive guidance on the Gov.UK website. Don’t forget to keep an eye on official guidance and, for true peace of mind, take legal advice.
To speak with one of our legal experts, please contact our office on 01752 663295.