Joint event with the National Solicitors Alliance (NSA)

We were delighted to jointly host with the National Solicitors Alliance (NSA) a Brexit Briefing for members on 24 October.

Author of the Institute’s Guide to Brexit, Eoin O’Shea provided an insightful analysis of the most recent developments including; a summary of the revised withdrawal agreement, how EU law would take effect in Northern Ireland, potential customs and tariffs regimes including additional administrative burdens and, in the absence of an agreement between the UK and EU by 2022, the risk of smuggling on the border.

Eoin is a Barrister, a member of Chartered Accountants Ireland and the Tax Institute and is also a former member of the European Court of Auditors.

Eoin later joined a panel discussion chaired by Chartered Accountants Ireland Interim Managers Chairman Pat Byrne which included Akriti Gupta, Public Policy Manager, Chartered Accountants Ireland and Brian Cunneen, from the NSA management team.

The importance of the existing Common Travel Agreement (CTA), a reciprocal arrangement allowing British and Irish citizens to travel freely between the UK and Ireland and reside in either jurisdiction with equivalent rights was considered.

Threats and opportunities were discussed in the areas of UK/EU/Irish relations, practical impacts on businesses and technology and innovation activities and transfers between the UK and EU, currently bedded in the UK. The primary threats are on smaller businesses, in Northern Ireland and Ireland, without the resources to continually adapt and scale solutions to changing circumstances. Opportunities arise for Ireland remaining within the stability and certainty of the pan European, European Court of Justice, giving consistency in law and interpretation of the same.

Challenges will arise if a no-deal or hard Brexit arises, including divergence in laws and regulations, in the short or longer term in key areas, such as data protection, product liability, professional qualification recognition, pan-European insurance and banking and financial services licenses.

With Brexit timelines still not established and future business models remaining unclear, Akriti strongly urged smaller businesses and their professional advisers to consider the following five points:

  1. Assess and develop customs capacity
  2. Review your supply chain and market
  3. Review all your certification, regulation and licencing
  4. Manage currency and cash flow
  5. Protect and inform staff

(Akriti wrote in detail about these points in a recent article for Chartered Accountants Ireland’s Practice Matters publication. View)

Brian Cunneen, one of the 3 founders of the NSA, gave a summary of some key issues and impacts of Brexit from a legal perspective that legal firms, other professional advisors and businesses generally need to be cognisant of:

  1. Professional qualifications that are currently accepted cross border within the EU may not be effective for UK qualified citizens wishing to work in the EU and vice-versa.
  2. GDPR information requirements may become more complicated if the UK is no longer in the EU and processing of data in the UK may not be acceptable.
  3. EU Passporting rules may not apply for banking services which, in turn, may impact on where banking services are sold, administered and supported.
  4. Product liability and warranty arrangements may no longer be effective from the UK to EU
  5. Family law may also be affected since custody etc. arrangements are currently governed by EU law which may not apply in the UK.

Following an interesting audience Q&A, attendees enjoyed some informal networking time which allowed further deliberation around the evening discussions.