Brexit – commercial challenges and opportunities

Insights - 28/06/2019

While most of the UK has tired of Brexit negotiations and discussions, other nations are gearing up for the possibilities that Brexit might present.

As mentioned in my previous blog, there is no “one-size fits all” approach to Brexit and companies will benefit from reviewing the way they work and considering ways that they can continue to compete and thrive. Having attended the EuropeFides conference in Shanghai and Hong Kong earlier this month, it is clear that the UK remains an attractive place for companies to invest and do business.

One of the major challenges facing businesses is the uncertainty that Brexit brings. It is difficult to plan and adapt when you don’t know what’s around the corner. Brexit is likely to change the way our major cities, in particular London, work. With big businesses exercising caution and moving offices to other EU countries, such as Ireland, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the UK remains a good place to do business and is perceived as so in many emerging markets and developing countries. Buying property in the UK is still seen as a solid investment for oversea investors who are looking to educate their children here or simply to build a property portfolio. Additionally, there is a real appetite to invest in Tech and Biotech businesses.

With key players leaving the UK, the market is opening up to smaller and niche businesses, enabling them to some of the space left by the bigger businesses. Some are forecasting that the UK will become more like Germany, with an emphasis on different types of trade, such as light manufacturing, and with more focus on employment and investment in local areas.

With other nations getting ready for Brexit and seizing gaps in the market there are opportunities for new strategic alliances to be made. The UK government is anxious to keep retain the UK’s reputation as a major business hub and to make it an attractive place to trade Some countries are hoping to take advantage of, potentially, lower or tariff free imports into the UK. Non-EU countries are also taking advantage of fluctuating exchange rates, making the UK more attractive than ever for investment. The UK’s clear company structures, tailored visas for entrepreneurs, English language, trusted legal system and flexibility are just some of the factors which should encourage businesses to set up and expand into the UK.

We are starting to see the first of the Brexit cases going through the UK courts which give a taste of some of the problems to come over the next eighteen months including:

  • increased negotiation and potential litigation in relation to existing contracts;
  • an increasing focus on exchange rates;
  • a shift towards shorter contracts and the use of break clauses.

While the next few years are likely to present numerous challenges and changes to the way we do business, the transition period set to see us through to 31 December 2020 will hopefully ensure that there is some time to prepare for the brave new world. What I have learned from my recent trip is that there whole new markets opening up to the UK which we must embrace post Brexit.

If you have any questions regarding any of the above please contact John Andrews, Partner and Head of our Corporate and Commercial team. John is contactable by email on [email protected] or by telephone on 020 8614 4589.

Other articles from June's newsletter

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Although correct at the time of publication, the contents of this newsletter/blog are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Please contact us for the latest legal position.