Early September 2019 saw a new law passed by Parliament that compels the Prime Minister to write a letter to the European Union formally requesting an extension to the UK’s proposed exit date if Parliament has not approved an exit deal by October 19.

However, Boris Johnson has said that, in spite of the provisions of the new law, there are no circumstances in which he will request an extension and has re-affirmed that the UK will be leaving the EU on October 31 this year, with or without a deal. A ‘no-deal exit’ remains the default option if no extension or deal is agreed, and even if the PM was to request an extension, the EU is not obliged to accept the request. The next EU summit is scheduled for October 17 and the UK Parliament will not now re-convene until October 14, unless the UK Supreme Court orders a recall in a hearing scheduled for Tuesday September 17.

The continued uncertainty has prompted the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to step up its efforts to ensure firms are aware of what they need to do to prepare for the potential of a no-deal Brexit. It warns that “firms who have not prepared appropriately may risk an impact on their business.”

The FCA has commissioned new digital adverts that link to its Brexit webpages and has launched a new Brexit helpline with phone number 0800 048 4255.

Previous information issued by the FCA on Brexit includes:

  • How almost every authorised firm could be affected by Brexit in some way
  • How the FCA has put in place a Temporary Permissions Regime to assist European firms who wish to continue operating in the UK after Brexit
  • How the FCA’s Temporary Transitional Powers will mean that most UK-based firms without significant European operations will largely be able to comply with their existing regulatory obligations for a period after Brexit

Brexit will also result in the abrupt loss of passporting for UK firms doing business in the EU and EEA. Whether firms will need new regulatory permissions to continue to do business in an EU/EEA country will depend on the activity they are carrying on, the local law and the approach of the local authorities in that jurisdiction. Firms should make themselves aware of any transitional regimes, with deadlines or registration requirements attached to them, that have been put in place by relevant member states. The EU/EEA states that have put in place arrangements to facilitate continued cross-border activity by UK firms are listed on the FCA’s site.

Nausicaa Delfas, the FCA’s Executive Director of International and de-facto ‘head of Brexit’, said:

“The FCA has undertaken significant work to prepare for the UK’s departure from the EU. We have published extensive information on our Brexit pages and held events, reaching firms and trade organisations around the country. We expect firms to ensure they are ready if there is a no-deal. If firms haven’t finalised their preparations, there is a risk they could be impacted. Firms should consult the information on our website.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has also called on firms to “prepare for all scenarios”. UK firms that already comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), who have no contacts in the EEA who send data to them and no customers in the EEA will not need to do much to prepare for data protection after Brexit. The ICO says that their best preparation for data protection after Brexit is to comply with the existing GDPR but also advises firms to review their privacy information and documentation to identify any minor changes that need to be made after Brexit, such as removing references to European legislation.

Firms that send data from the UK to the EEA will still be able to do so post-Brexit. If an EEA firm sends personal data to a UK-firm, the ICO advises the UK firm to “take action with [the European firm] so the data can continue to flow. Standard Contractual Clauses are one method by which the ICO says this can be arranged.

UK firms that operate in the EEA will need to comply with both UK and EU data protection law after Brexit.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article