28th Jun 2016

​Brexit – some issues for digital businesses

We’ve been considering some consequences for digital businesses of the Brexit vote – the impact could be significant and negative unless the EU are feeling quite friendly and positive towards the UK.

More examples are coming into view all the time, but here are a couple of big ones which didn’t, because they have no populist appeal, make it into any public debate.

Intellectual property law is pretty well uniform across Europe – patents, copyright, design right. Rights can be created in one country and then applied across the Union. We know they will apply and be enforced uniformly. The process to apply for a trade mark in every country in the EU involves one application, not 27. It’s quick, inexpensive, and protects the rights of individual and businesses. We expect that the UK will lose that; this could lead to more cost and more delay.

EU data protection legislation is the international gold standard. The General Data Protection Regulations, replacing the Data Protection Act of 1998, will come into force in July 2018. It is essential to protect individual rights, and it’s the result of massive, wide consultation. The United States is struggling to keep up, but US companies will do what they have to in order to keep up because of the massive European market. The UK? Much less massive; so the UK will have to fall in line with the EU standard in any event, but as an external nation requiring formal recognition.

The UK, therefore, will have to comply fully with the EU legislation, and demonstrate its compliance as an external, perhaps frosty entity to the EU. The additional cost to the economy will be significant; the concern is that this will create a disincentive to businesses to do business in the UK.

On 23 June one client told us he’s lost £30,000 a month of new business from an international industrial concern, and the opportunity to employ 15 new people; because the potential client made remaining in the EU a precondition. It’s likely that banks will move operations overseas, and Nigel’s friends won’t shed tears over them; but it’s also likely that it will be office workers in Yorkshire.

So it begins.

Written by Paul Berwin of Berwins Solicitors.

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