How will Brexit affect your business?

Trading with certainty in uncertain times. Understand the risks and opportunities Brexit can bring to your business and how to manage them.

With the historic Brexit agreement now delivered, attention turns to how businesses will respond to change. Whatever happens over the coming months, there is an essential need to understand how Brexit will affect your business.

What industries are affected by Brexit?

Every industry is affected by Brexit due to the potential economic impacts (reduced investment and recession) and manpower issues (migrated workforces and skilled worker shortages). Some industries will be impacted more than others such as financial services but it is those that trade internationally that will see the greatest change. Businesses with continental European suppliers or customers will be impacted, while trade with non-EU countries will be affected by losing access to the EU's current free trade arrangements and any customs blockages.

What key issues does Brexit cause for businesses?

How Brexit affects business will be different across the board. Every organisation faces different challenges when it comes to the UK leaving the EU, but there are some key challenges that we all need to address. Our experts have compiled Brexit Bitesize guides to support businesses through this uncertain time.

  • Supply chain - Brexit brings a real risk of increased costs and delay to supply chains. We outline the 11 actions to reduce the impact of cost hikes and delays - and answer the most common Brexit supply chain questions. Our essential international supply of good checklist also offers practical guidance on reassessing your supply chain and creating effective international supply of goods contracts.  Download a copy of this step-by-step guide and checklist to identify the key issues for your business and how using the revised Incoterms 2020 contract terms can help
  • Customs/border tariffs - It's crucial for importers and exporters to understand the potential customs implications for their businesses.
  • Workforce - While much of British employment law derives from Europe, some areas are purely UK provisions. We address some of the initial issues businesses need to consider.
  • Regulation - The impact of Brexit on regulation is potentially enormous. In many areas, the UK largely works to European-wide standards and it is likely that UK regulation will continue to comply with those standards (but with no ability to shape the policy behind them). We consider the potential scenarios in the transition period. We recently issued a whitepaper providing an Introduction to the Withdrawal Agreement which goes into more detail.
  • Economic issues - All parts of the economy, and every sector in which the UK operates, are likely to experience the effects of Brexit. We look at some frequently asked questions regarding Brexit and the economy.

What opportunities might leaving the EU offer to UK businesses?

Brexit is frequently seen as a risk yet it will bring new opportunities for those that wish to capitalise on them. The volatility of currency will favour some businesses and new trading relationships will need to be explored.

What are the legal implications of Brexit?

As the UK breaks away from the EU, there will be the challenge of untangling its regulatory framework for government and parliament. Brexit affects businesses immediately by changing how the law is approached. The process will include transforming applicable EU law into UK law and courts will need to consider whether they use decisions previously made in the European Court of Justice as points of reference.

The changes to the UK's legal framework will cause headaches for organisations as they attempt to navigate how the changes affect their operations including their contracts and employees. It is vital that decision makers have access to expertise in the applicable areas to ensure that they are managing risks appropriately and are aware of any potential opportunities.

How can Gowling WLG help?

Our experts play a regular part in the conversation surrounding Brexit. Businesses need to move past the uncertainty and move forward with investment decisions, planning supply chains, managing workforces and meeting bank and customer expectations.

Gowling WLG's Brexit Unit are helping clients navigate this period of flux and plan for the future with expertise across a range of issues and services designed to support those operating cross-border. From advice on strategic planning, contingency risk management and managing transactions, to building new structures and relationships in a post-Brexit future, the team is equipped to handle a full range of matters.

We have experience across a broad range of sectors including financial services, the public sector, real estate and tech. From advising government organisations on the mechanics of Brexit and the impact on international trade to asset managers and the passporting regime, Gowling WLG is highly active in this new and challenging arena.

To help explore what Brexit means for you and your business please contact one of our lead experts or another member of our Brexit Unit.

David Lowe
Partner, Head of International Commerce

David's knowledge of international trade and the supply of goods and services is second to none. He regularly advises on the important next steps GCs should take in light of the Brexit vote.

Bernardine Adkins
Partner, Head of EU, Trade and Competition

Partner Bernardine Adkins is head of the firm's EU, Trade & Competition team. With a wealth of over 25 years' experience in providing key strategic advice to clients, Bernardine is perfectly placed to advise on all aspects of EU, trade and competition law in light of the Brexit vote.

Kieran Laird
Partner, Head of Constitutional Affairs

Kieran Laird is a key member of our public sector team who has been researching, analysing and commenting on the various developments in the Brexit debate since autumn 2015. He is available to offer advice on the changes in the UK legal framework as Britain's departure from Europe unfolds.

Contact our Brexit Unit

Brexit Legal Services

Key Brexit dates

Please note that some of these timings are indicative only.


31 January 2020
The UK formally leaves the EU.

February 2020
The EU is expected to adopt its negotiating mandate for the future relationship negotiations with the UK. Negotiations will then commence.

11 March 2020
The Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver the Budget, setting out the Government's spending plans to smooth the UK's path to a new relationship with the EU.

June 2020
The Political Declaration states that both the UK and the EU will convene at a high level to take stock of progress with the aim of agreeing actions to move forward in negotiations on the future relationship.

1 July 2020
The deadline for the UK to request an extension of the transition period beyond 2020. The government has legislated to prohibit an extension being requested.

26 November 2020
The date EU officials say a Brexit trade deal must be ready to be presented to the European Parliament if it is to be ratified by the end of 2020. MEPs will meet in Strasbourg in the final week of November for their penultimate plenary session of the year.

31 December 2020
If the UK has ratified the Withdrawal Agreement, this is when the 'implementation period' will end. If a trade deal is not in place, the UK will fall back on to WTO rules.

1 January 2021
New agreement on UK-EU relations could enter into force (if an agreement has been reached and ratified by the end of 2020).

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