With the sands of time rapidly pouring through the Brexit hourglass the British Chamber of Commerce survey shockingly reveals that, of the firms that responded to the survey, only 38% have planned for the radically altered trading landscape that a no-deal Brexit would present.  The potential for a serious breakdown in the Brexit talks edges closer with each announcement.

Nick McEwen, an associate in Giambrone's corporate and commercial team commented “many of the companies that do business with European Union countries, either directly or indirectly, have had their plans for post-Brexit EU trading completely derailed by the serious impact of coronavirus pandemic and the struggle to survive in the face of lockdown, swiftly followed by the fact that government support is now fading.”  He further commented, “businesses are facing possibly the largest economic crisis of the century and simply staying afloat at the present time is hard, so navigating through yet another raft of government information in the shape of the “eight recommendations” at this point is a challenging task. The upheaval of Brexit itself, from the on-set, was always going to have a huge impact on trade across Europe and businesses have had conflicting messages almost from the beginning.”

The British Chambers of Commerce director-general, Adam Marshall, said, “With just 98 days to go, business communities face the triple threat of a resurgent coronavirus, receding government support schemes, and a disorderly end to the transition period. Significant unanswered questions remain for businesses, and despite recent public information campaigns, base levels of preparedness are low.” Mr. Marshall indicated that businesses currently wrestling with the continuing effects of the coronavirus pandemic no longer have the cash for further Brexit planning. 

The lawyers in Giambrone's corporate and commercial department are working with a number of businesses active in cross-border UK/EU trade to assist in getting Brexit ready. There are measures being taken to ease the anticipated disruption Brexit will bring for example the “Smart Freight Service”, to prevent Kent becoming one giant lorry park, by checking that hauliers have the correct paperwork before setting off and stopping those without adequate preparation before they start out, has received government assurances that it will be operational in time for the end of the transition period. 

The vital and valuable intellectual property of a business formerly protected by the EU will be similarly protected by the creation of a similar UK system. Trademarks protected under the Madrid system will be maintained, as will many UK copyrighted works such as music, films, books and photographs protected through international treaties. Businesses should ensure that they do not leave themselves vulnerable to rivals snapping up their lucrative trademark.

However, it should be remembered that trade across Europe and the UK is a two-way street and the effects of a no-deal Brexit would impact on all parties, what harms the UK, harms the EU, there will be no winners.  The negotiations continue and there have been indications that on both sides there is a renewed intention to achieve a workable deal that will enable the lucrative UK/EU trade to continue.

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