Lawyer advises businesses as Brexit legal issues deepen
As the political and legal wrangling continues ahead of October 31, 2019 set by the United Kingdom to exit the European Union, a lawyer, Charles Brasted, has advised that “businesses must prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
Brasted, a partner at London law firm Hogan Lovel, is of the opinion that “UK will automatically exit the European Union on 31 October.”
“The government alone need do nothing to make that happen; and parliament cannot stop it,” the lawyer said in a piece titled, “Brexit – A guide to the latest developments.”
With the complex political and legal dynamics, including the divergent rulings of Scottish and England and Wales judiciaries on the prorogation of the parliament, which will likely get to the Supreme Court, Brasted said businesses must brace up for the uncertainty ahead.
He noted that the prorogation of the parliament meant that it could not sit until mid-October and all outstanding bills, including measures intended to address Brexit day-one issues, would suffer.
He said, “It looks highly unlikely that all of the measures that government considered necessary to provide for the immediate post-Brexit position can now be introduced by October 31.
“The highest court in Scotland has ruled that the prorogation was unlawful and therefore a nullity.
“In contrast, in England and Wales, a divisional court concluded that the lawfulness of the prorogation cannot be judicially reviewed.
“So, the current position is that the prorogation is lawful and effective in English law, but unlawful and ineffective in Scottish law – both heading to the Supreme Court on appeal.
“If the Supreme Court agrees with the Scottish court that the decision to prorogue can, in principle, be reviewed for lawfulness, then it will have to consider whether it also agrees that, on the evidence (or, rather, the lack of it from the government), the Prime Minister’s dominant purpose was – contrary to the advice he gave the Queen – to deny the proper role of parliament in scrutinising government.
According to him, the Supreme Court’s decision may see the parliament return, the Prime Minister resign, and an election brought forward.
He said, “That may or may not affect the Brexit timetable – all is speculation at present.
“In the meantime, the default position remains a no-deal departure on 31 October, probably without all of the legislative measures that the government had planned.
“Businesses and their advisors must prepare for that outcome.
“As the political wrangling continues our advice remains, prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
“Many companies developed no-deal contingency plans in advance of the original Brexit deadline, including securing alternative transport routes, stockpiling products and moving licences to holders in the EU27. Those plans should be revisited and updated.
“Some companies ran out of time to implement all the actions identified, so now is the time to prioritise what still needs to be done to safeguard business operations as far as possible in the event of a no-deal exit.”