How businesses can prepare for leaving the EU

What will the commercial landscape be like post Brexit and how can businesses prepare?

Walker Morris and Matrix Chambers responded to these questions at their jointly hosted strategic business briefing and panel discussion yesterday.

Senior business leaders attended the event to hear a practical overview of how businesses can best approach the changing commercial landscape when the UK leaves the European Union in 2019.

Guest speaker at the event was Labour peer and Oxford University academic, Lord Wood of Anfield. Lord Wood served as Senior Adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown from 2007 to 2010 on foreign policy, culture and Northern Ireland, and worked as the lead special adviser at the Treasury. His research at Oxford focuses on European and American politics (with a focus on Germany and the UK).

Also speaking at the event were Luis González García and Rhodri Thompson QC both from Matrix Chambers. Rhodri is a senior silk specialising in competition law and EU law. He is also a recognised leader in public law and represented Gina Miller in the highly publicised article 50 case Miller, Santos and ors v Secretary of State (2017), which ruled that the UK Government may not initiate withdrawal from the EU without an Act of the UK Parliament permitting the Government to do so.

Luis is a barrister specialising in public international law, international trade and international arbitration with particular emphasis on investment treaty arbitration. Luis is a former trade negotiator for the Government of Mexico and has negotiated more than 10 free trade agreements (FTAs) including the EU-Mexico FTA.

The session explored the current political situation, the likely course of the negotiations with the EU and the position for UK plc post-Brexit under various trading models, with an emphasis on practical realities for business. A key message was the need for business to engage directly with Government, to influence the deal being sought and to support officials in the negotiation process.

Trudy Feaster-Gee, Partner (Barrister) and Head of the Brexit Committee at Walker Morris, commented:

“While the business world faces current uncertainty as to what the end deal with the EU will look like, it is possible at this stage to unpick the practical requirements which will follow from choosing among various options for the UK’s future trade relationship with the EU.

“Held in response to client feedback expressing their need to make key business decisions rather than wait until 15 months’ time, we brought together a panel of specialists to explain some of these implications to business leaders. The event is part of a series of thought-leadership articles and events to help our clients and contacts navigate through the uncertainties of the Brexit process.”