As the Brexit transition period deadline of the 31st December gets closer, firms are busy preparing to ensure a smooth transition.
There are several steps businesses need to take in line with new UK law which replaces existing EU law. The Government has also released a Transition Checker Tool to assist with the new rules.
Is your law firm ready?
We summarise the key steps issued by the Law Society to help you prepare.
10 steps to ensure a smooth Brexit transition period
- Check your data transfers
The person in your law firm responsible for data protection should review the data flows and transfer mechanisms in your law firm if you receive personal data from contacts or clients in the EEA. Checking your data transfers will be particularly important if the UK exits the transition period without a data adequacy decision.
- Check your website, domains and technology providers
If you use any website or technology services that are hosted in Europe, you should review your terms and conditions and contact the providers to find out about the continuity of services before the transition end period.
- Review intellectual property (IP) rights held by the firm
Any IP rights that are registered with the EU Intellectual Property Office (IPO) should be verified before the 31st of December. If IP rights are due to be created after the transition end period, you should check how to ensure protection across the EU, in line with ongoing UK-EU negotiations.
- Check whether your staff require a visa
Make sure that any staff who travel to EU member states have the correct visas and documents in place before travelling. Check that any eligible EEA/Swiss employees living in the UK before 31 December 2020 have registered with the EU Settlement Scheme before the deadline of 30 June 2021.
- Check your employee’s ability to work and live in Europe
If your law firm has a presence and employees currently working in the EU, it’s important to check that they are registered to work and live abroad and whether they need to start paying social security contributions in the country they work/live in by contacting the relevant EU social security institution.
- Check your contracts on goods or services received by the firm
It’s important to ensure that any of your EU suppliers have taken contingency measures to ensure timely delivery/performance.
- Check your VAT invoicing
At the end of the transition period, the VAT treatment of business to consumer supplies by UK lawyers to EEA clients will move outside the scope of VAT rather than be subject to full VAT. You should amend your client billing system to reflect the changes.
- Check jurisdiction points in court proceedings
It is advised that firms should re-issue any Choice of Court Agreements for after the end of the transaction period.
- Check practice rights and insurance
Solicitors and firms will need to make sure that they are compliant with the national law in each jurisdiction after the transaction period ends. It’s also important to check that solicitors hold the appropriate documentation and qualifications to practice in EU/EFTA courts.
- Check your business model to ensure it is fit for purpose
The final step is to review your existing structures and check that they are in alignment with national company law and professional rules for legal practice in each country. All companies will need to use ‘UK adopted IAS’ instead of ‘EU adopted IAS’ for financial years beginning after the 1 January 2021.
Protect your law firm during the transition period
The government’s advice is constantly changing, so it’s important to keep up with the latest information to ensure your firm is compliant. It can be difficult for law firms to fully prepare because negotiations are still ongoing; however, it’s important to plan as best as you can. CBSIT’s IT security services will give you access to the knowledge and technology you need to protect your chambers and data. Get in touch to book your free IT consultation with one of our experts.