On the 20th of April, a range of legal practitioners and MPs came together to discuss the legal implications of the UK leaving the European Union. This meeting was about the possible affects of Brexit and the EU referendum vote on the 23rd of June this year. As it turned out, there could be severe effects on the UK’s financial services, legal services and employment rights. In this guide, we explain the main implications for you, and explain what leaving the EU really could mean.
Splitting from the EU won’t be easy
The first effect that was discussed was that separating from the EU would not be simple or quick to do. Gordon Nardell QC said that “unravelling could take years”. This is mainly because the process for a country leaving the EU (Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty) is quite vague. It may also mean that certain MPs are given greater power as more control is handed back to the UK.
The effect on employment
Another downside of leaving the EU is that much of our Employment Law comes from the EU. Even though the UK has been a pioneer in the area of employment rights, leaving the EU would mean that the UK would have to choose which laws to keep, and which ones to change. For employers and employees this will definitely mean changes in contracts and ways of working. It may also mean that some of the rights that employers and employees currently enjoy could be taken away or changed.
The effect on financial services
Although the mood of the legal practitioners was positive at the meeting, all agreed that a vote to leave will cause major disruptions to our financial sector.
The main reason for this disruption is the fact that many financial companies use the UK as a hub for their EU operations, thanks to our access and membership. If we leave the EU, it is very likely that these companies will relocate to a country that is a member, such as France or Germany. This means a reduction in available financial services, possible redundancies and loss of trade for the UK. Other, smaller financial services companies may find it too difficult to operate under both EU and UK law, so they may decide to leave the UK market also.
The effect on legal services
Currently the legal relationship between the EU and the UK is very defined. Leaving the EU would mean that the UK has to renegotiate new terms and ways of working with the EU as a whole, or with each individual member state. This could add an extra burden to the legal sector, and could mean that certain areas of law, such as Immigration Law and Criminal Law, could be affected.
Any benefits of leaving the EU?
There is one benefit to leaving the EU, and that would be the so-called “legal bonanza” that would occur due to an increase in short and medium-term work for the legal sector. Leaving the EU would mean an increased need for legal advice across all areas of law, particularly immigration and employment, as the UK finds its feet. This would mean that lawyers and solicitors would be in high demand for a short while, but the expert panel agreed this would not counteract the overall negative impact leaving the UK would have on the UK’s legal services market.
The consequences of leaving the EU
Overall, there are some pretty serious implications of Brexit, should we vote to leave on the 23rd of June this year. By removing ourselves from the EU, we are giving ourselves great amounts of changes and decisions to make. This means disruption across many markets, not just on a commercial level, but on a personal and individual level. That’s why it’s important to understand what voting “leave” really means. Are the perceived benefits worth the disruption? We’re not so sure. Let us know what you think below.
If you want to know more about the possible disruption, or simply want more information, then call our experts 7 days a week for unlimited advice. We charge just £68 per call. We’re available on 0203 002 4898.