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Eversheds Sutherland comment: Reality of huge Brexit legislation headache hits home

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    A new report from thinktank the Institute for Government predicts that the ‘huge burden’ of new bills and secondary legislation UK parliament needs to pass as part of Brexit will be the ‘biggest peacetime challenge the country has faced’. On this Ros Kellaway, head of the Eversheds Sutherland EU competition and regulatory group and specialist Brexit lawyer, comments:

    “It's clear to everyone working on Brexit that it's a huge legislative undertaking, and perhaps not enough was made of the enormity of this upcoming headache for lawmakers and its knock-on effects during pre-referendum campaigning.

    “When the Government announced the Great Repeal Bill it all looked simple – repeal everything then save everything, particularly as the UK did not vote against the vast majority of EU legislation as it was passed into law – but, as this report shows, the reality is very different. It’s not yet clear if Parliament will have time to carry on with business-as-usual law-making at anywhere near current levels, and we are likely to see an inevitable slowdown of progress on issues that would otherwise have been deemed important to the UK. The looming legislative burden also highlights the vital importance of a phased-in period of implementation which the Prime Minister championed in her ‘Exit from and New Partnership with the EU’ paper in February.

    “For businesses, it’s important they focus on what they can control during this period of uncertainty – their own business – and get their house in order to make the best of the current and future situation. Our own research found that businesses are dangerously underprepared for Brexit, with 80% saying they have not taken any further steps to prepare, opting instead for a ‘wait and see’ approach. This is despite 96% of them saying Brexit is an agenda item at their senior/board level. Right now, companies should be focusing on reviewing and planning for a variety of post-Brexit outcomes around their people and recruitment, analysing their trading networks, and reviewing all cross-border contracts and counter party arrangements. As part of their planning, businesses should be lobbying hard to ensure that the Government puts the negotiation of effective transitional arrangements at the top of its negotiating agenda. With the massive legislative job facing the Government, the time they buy through an effective transitional period will benefit them as much, if not more, than the businesses having to brace themselves for change.”

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