Global firm K&L Gates has launched a support system to ensure clients are fully prepared if the UK leaves the European Union, following its imminent referendum.
The firm has established a task force and dedicated hotline to help clients navigate the uncertainty and identify potential issues that could arise from a Brexit (British exit) of the EU, comprised of partners from the firm’s litigation, finance, corporate, intellectual property, policy and regulatory, and employment law practice areas.
Managing partner Europe Martin Lane is head of the Brexit task force initiative.
“Uncertainty is the major issue companies are contending with,” he told Australasian Lawyer.
“Much of the regulation of financial services in the UK is governed by EU law and an exit would mean financial institutions with cross border operations would become subject to a new regulatory regime.”
He said that a sudden change in the UK’s employment laws, which are heavily derived from the EU, could create problems for businesses, magnified by the expected fragility of economic confidence if the UK elects to leave the union.
“As a result of its EU membership, the UK is subject to harmonised rules about the enforcement of judgments,” Lane said.
“Without these regulations, matters would be dependent on domestic rules of law in relevant countries, which can create uncertainty and disputes through a lack of harmonisation, as well as potential difficulties in the enforcement of legal rights and obligations including debts.”
And he said that uncertainty created by a Brexit could impact the global economy, Australia in particular.
“The United Kingdom is Australia’s seventh largest trade partner and with more than 2,000 Australian and UK companies conducting business on a daily basis it’s easy to appreciate how the ripple effects of a potential Brexit could impact Australia,” said Lane.
“Australian businesses doing business in the United Kingdom need to be prepared for the possibility of a considerable period of uncertainty (at least a year), that will follow an exit vote. They need to ensure they are aware of the regulatory changes being proposed, how those changes will impact their business and how they can best mitigate any potential loss.”