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As Brexit uncertainty continues, Russell Bell provides some practical guidance to help guard you against some of the possible outcomes.

Protecting relationships with your suppliers, your staff and your customers is key. If your suppliers or customers become affected by increased Brexit costs, they may well look to renegotiate contracts with you, increase prices or reduce your margins. Below is a summary of just some of the legal actions you can take now, broken down into different areas of business law, which will help avoid any unintended disruption for your business.


To protect and clarify your position, review important supplier and customer contracts with terms beyond March 2019 to determine whether:

  • termination rights can be triggered in the event of new import or export tariffs being imposed

  • adjustment of the definitions of “territory” in your agreements is required to reflect a UK withdrawal, particularly if they refer to “members of the EU”

  • force majeure or material adverse change clauses are triggered

  • definitions or clauses require amending to clarify what “EU” and “EU law” means

  • if jurisdictional rules and court locations need to be reconsidered.


While the UK Government has confirmed that the protection afforded to workers through current employment legislation will continue post-Brexit, it’s important that businesses consider any risks to their HR strategies, in particular:

  • check your existing employee arrangements, including immigration status and work permit requirements

  • identify any potential skill or service gaps which may arise if employees relocate

  • identify staff who may be affected by any Brexit restrictions on travel or immigration and consider helping them to obtain the necessary clearances

  • amend your employment contracts to deal with issues such as mobility, place of business, confidentiality and intellectual property.


Keep going with your General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) preparation. The UK’s Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has indicated that the GDPR principles will continue to apply post-Brexit so your preparations should include the following actions:

  • undertake an audit of your data flows to identify where data resides geographically and how it is processed

  • consider what adjustments may need to be made to enable existing arrangements to continue and incorporate these into your GDPR plans

  • include EU model clauses within agreements to ensure that post-Brexit data transfers between the UK and EU can still take place

  • if your business is heavily reliant on data transfers between the UK and EU, consider whether to move your data services to another EU member state and what resourcing issues this might create.

In summary, my strong advice is to keep things simple. Look at your suppliers, your people and your customers – and make sure your relationships with them, legal and otherwise, are as secure as you can make them. Make sure your contracts allow you sufficient flexibility to make changes as and when issues arise, whether they relate to tariffs, exchange rates or regulations, and make those changes whenever you can.

Also, don’t panic while the uncertainty continues. Although both sides promise some acceleration in negotiations, it may still be like this for a while.

This article was published in Travel Trade Gazette on 8 February 2018.

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