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We need to avoid both Brexit cliff edges

15 December 2017

Business confidence in the wake of Brexit relies on legal clarity the Law Society of England and Wales cautioned today following the release of the Treasury Select Committee’s report on transitional arrangements for exiting the European Union.

Law Society president Joe Egan welcomed the Treasury Select Committee’s push for urgent agreement of a “standstill transition”.

“Agreeing to maintain the existing relationship between the UK and EU between now and our departure to ensure a smooth transition will boost business confidence,” Joe Egan said.

“Despite the positive steps made during phase one negotiations, there is still significant uncertainty over the future legal framework. It is important this is urgently addressed by both sides.”

The Law Society also welcomed the Committee’s stance on an adaptation period following a transition.

“We have previously warned about the danger of a cliff edge scenario for businesses and the courts,” Joe Egan added.

“Businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), will need time to prepare for the future relationship between the UK and EU.

“The committee rightly points out this relationship may not be signed off until well into any transition period – making it even more important such a period is agreed.

There are hundreds of agreements covering all areas of business, law and life that need to be renegotiated.

“The cliff edge is there not once but twice, as the UK leaves the European Union, and at the end of any future transition period. In this case, an implementation period is essential to help businesses and individuals understand their legal rights and responsibilities, particularly if a new customs regime is established.

“Regardless of when any future deal is agreed, a lengthy period to prepare for legal changes will be necessary.

“Leaving the EU will result in the single largest upheaval in law in the UK’s history.

“We can’t make these changes happen overnight and we urge the government to accept the committee’s recommendations on a transition and implementation period.”

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law. 

Press office contact: Chris Steer | christopher.steer@lawsociety.org.uk | +44 (0)20 7316 5624