Brexit – How will you be affected?
by Diane Yarrow
The recent referendum campaign focussed much on sovereignty and the fact that a considerable amount of legislation comes from the EU. But do you know how much impact EU law has? In this article, we want to highlight some of the areas where EU law (and therefore Brexit) may affect you.
EU law impacts most businesses in one way or another. Here are a couple of examples:
- Competition Law. Competition law does not just affect huge businesses with enormous market share. Any business which participates in a supply chain or as a distributor may be affected. EU and UK competition law is currently identical, but this may not always be the case following in exit from the EU. Businesses will also no longer be protected by the EU Vertical Agreements Directive, which covers distribution agreements.
- Distance Selling. Businesses which deal with consumers otherwise then face to face have to comply with the Distance Selling Regulations. This covers what information has to be provided to a customer and when (and if) the customer can return items purchased. Exit from the EU will mean that we will have to reconsider these rules and businesses selling to consumers both in the UK and EU may have to comply with two sets of differing rules.
Employment law is really different from country to country, so we must make all our own, right? Wrong!
- TUPE. The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations protect employees where their employer sells the business they work for. It also covers changes in service providers, like outsourcing. This is the same all over the EU, because it comes from a piece of EU legislation called the Acquired Rights Directive. Businesses tend to dislike TUPE, so this may not survive post-Brexit.
- Working Time. Love your holidays? The Working Time Regulations implement EU law, covering how much paid holiday you should get, how many hours per week you can be made to work and what breaks you have to be given. While the government indicated they would not be looking to reduce employee protection, this may come up for review in the future.
The English court system is the envy of the world, but even here EU law has an impact.
- Brussels Regulation. The courts of all EU member states have the same rules to work out where cases should be heard where you have parties in different countries. Without this legislation, we will revert back to the traditional English rules, which are quite complicated. They may also differ from the rules of other countries, leading to potential uncertainty.
- Rome Regulation. It is not just where a contract law case is heard which is important, but also what law governs the contract itself. The Rome Regulation sets this out. Again, without this piece of legislation, we will have to formulate our own rules for this and work with the rules of other countries to make this as simple as possible.
EU law doesn’t cover probate, does it? Oh yes, it does.
- EU Succession Regulation. This is a fairly new piece of legislation which was designed to stop people having to have wills in each country in which they had assets. Previously, an English person with a Spanish property had to have an English will to cover the English assets and a Spanish will to cover the Spanish property. Without the EU Succession Regulation, we will need to revert back to this position, with the potential increase in costs (and potential for not knowing about the need for separate wills and therefore falling foul of overseas intestacy rules).
This is just a flavour of the impact that EU law currently has on our lives. In our future articles, we will be looking at some of these topics in more detail, so make sure you check them out. Details will also be available on Twitter – see @GL_BrexitBrief or #GL_BrexitBrief.
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