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Brexit Bulletin – November 2020
Brexit Bulletin – November 2020

Welcome to your November 2020 Brexit Bulletin. Sadly, we forgot to celebrate the Bulletin's two-year anniversary back in September - that's right, this is the 28th consecutive monthly Brexit Bulletin we've published. Time flies when you're having fun...

So, one month to go and we still don't know if we'll have free trade or not. What we do know is we're working hard to make sure you have all the information and support you need (where it exists, at least!). We've updated the Brexit pages of the BOSS website

We've also been busy looking into your queries, and liaising with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (and beyond!) to find answers for you. Remember, the best place to start your preparations is the Government's Transition Checker tool but, as the clock ticks on, do contact us if there's anything you're not sure about.

Don't forget you can add colleagues to our mailing list by emailing [email protected]

 

In this month's Bulletin:

1.     Political update

2.     BOSS/BPIF Brexit Webinar

3.     UK Transition - Packaging Questions

4.     Online Q&A forums

5.     Get contracts ready

6.     Haulier Handbook and Advice Sites

7.     Public sector EU tenders post-transition

8.     Latest publications

 

1.     Political update

EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier emerged from his COVID-enforced isolation on the weekend, reassuring MEPs that he's ready for another week of trade talks. EU member states are reportedly becoming sceptical that there's any point continuing negotiations which have, so far, failed to produce a solid result.

With large gaps between the two sides still present, some EU sources suggested that the balance had tipped in favour of accepting a no-deal scenario and allowing businesses time to prepare. If a deal can't be reached by this Wednesday (2 December), it's considered next-to-impossible that MEPs would have time to ratify it by January 1. Yet however impossible things seem, we know that last-chance-deadlines have become very familiar...

To this end, an 'extraordinary sitting' of the EU chamber has been pencilled in for 28 December, meaning a final result would be announced at 6.30pm (EST) that day - giving just over 72 hours before the Transition Period ends.  Both sides are, of course, warning each other that time's nearly up...

This morning, UK car makers have called for clarity, faced with 10% import tariffs if free trade isn't continued. They're stockpiling now ahead of potential price rises. "It's time business and political timetables converge, rather than compete" said the CBI.

 

2.     BOSS/BPIF Brexit Webinar

We'll be holding a BREXIT webinar in December with our partners BPIF. Keep an eye out for news of this.

 

3.     UK Transition Packaging Questions

BOSS have posed specific and urgent questions to the BEIS Goods Team via a letter sent regarding Brexit and labelling products sold in the UK. The questions cover clarity of the transition period and a requests for a clear definition of what 'accompanying documentation' is. If you would like to view this letter please email [email protected]

If any member would like to make direct contact with the Goods Team they can do so at this email [email protected],  however it would help us to represent you if you copied us in.

 

4.     Online Q&A forums

The Cabinet Office has launched a series of online forums for trading businesses. Specific topics include border disruption, manufactured goods regulations and checking HGVs. You can post specific questions in the forum and someone from Government should get back to you, or you can browse previously posted questions and answers.

 

5.     Get contracts ready

As your business gets ready for Brexit it is time to review your existing commercial contracts, both where you are the Supplier and where you are the Customer.

For each current agreement an assessment should be made of the potential impact of Brexit.

Could Brexit....

  • Impact on how the contract is performed?
  • Prevent the prevent the performance of the contract?
  • Lead to additional costs for one of the parties, and if so, what are those costs likely to be?

And, of course which party will have to bear any additional costs?

Where Brexit is likely to have an impact on performance or cost of performance, of a current contract, then you need to know if the terms of the current contract will give you the protection that you need. Review each contract and ask:

  • Is there scope to vary the terms of the current agreement?
  • Is there an absolute obligation on you as a Supplier to supply goods, or can you decline any orders?
  • Will you be liable for delay in delivery or other performance of the contract?
  • What are the terms around relief from liability for delay or non-performance? For example exclusion and limits on liability, and Force Majeure clauses.
  • Is there a price escalation clause that allows increases in the event of material change?
  • If necessary, can you terminate the contract before the expiry date?

Current contracts may also need to be reviewed and varied if they contain specific terms or relate to specific goods or services:

  • Does the contract relate to the import or export of restricted products, services or data?
  • Does the performance of the contract rely on a licence to produce, sell or distribute goods or services for use in the "EU"? Will any licence need to be amended to include the UK?

Having reviewed existing contractual arrangements, you will also need to consider the impact of BREXIT on new commercial contracts. Whether you are terminating current agreements and re-negotiating new terms, or entering into new deals with new suppliers or customers.

Where you are the Supplier you may want to include:

  • Terms which allow you to vary the contract
  • A price escalation clause to enable you to pass on additional costs
  • Limits on your liability for delay or failure to perform

Where you are the Customer you may wish to consider:

  • What terms you need to maintain continuity of supply, for example non-exclusivity, to enable you to buy from alternative suppliers
  • Terms that limit any price increases
  • A re-think of "just in time" supply chains
  • Obligations on the supplier to maintain stock-holdings

Finally, both parties should be prepared for possible future disputes. The governing law and jurisdiction of the agreement will be more important than before Brexit, as will any dispute resolution clauses.

 

6.     Haulier Handbook and Advice Sites

The Haulier Handbook is the key bit of guidance for haulage companies and commercial drivers moving goods between Great Britain and the European Union.

Also revealed last week were the Advice Sites being set up at motorway service stations and truck stops. Check out the available locations. Support includes multi-lingual in-person advice on new border changes, the Hauliers Handbook and training on the 'Check an HGV' service which should go live in December.

If there are delays, it's been confirmed that the disused airport at Manston, near Ramsgate in Kent, will become a holding site for lorries.

Remember, it's the trader's responsibility to make customs declarations and provide the haulage company and driver with the correct documents. This can be done directly or via a third party, for example a freight forwarder, logistics company or customs agent. See last month's Bulletin for information about the difference between these third parties, and for a list of those available.

 

7.     Public sector EU tenders post-transition 

We informed you some time ago a bit about the new setup for applying to EU tenders post-Brexit. More details have this month been published.

What will happen?

Tenders Electronic Daily (TED), AKA the European public procurement journal, where many of you currently find EU tenders, will no longer be available after Transition. It will be replaced by a similar system on the gov.uk website called Find A Tender.

Find A Tender will go live at 11pm on December 31, 2020. If you currently use Contracts Finder (for UK public sector contracts) you'll be able to log in with the same details.  If not, you can register for Find A Tender now ahead of 31 December.

Until the 31st, continue to use TED.

 

8.     Latest publications

Institute for Government - Preparing Brexit: How Ready is the UK?

Scottish Centre on European Relations - European Union Views of the UK post- Brexit and of the Future EU-UK Relationship

Future British Standards Coalition: Safeguarding Standards

View all the online resources here.

30 November 2020

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For more information please contact:
Carys Davis
Carys Davis
Public Affairs Consultant
020 7915 8373
You might also be interested in:
  • Brexit Transition - Important info Please click here for the Brexit Transition Checklist.
  • Funding Importers/exporters who will need to complete customs declarations can apply for funding for training.
  • Online Resources Everyone's talking about Brexit. We've pulled together some of the more interesting publications out there.
  • Managing currency risk With a weaker currency making imports more expensive, you've voiced concerns about rising costs - so we've put together some tips to consider.
  • Importing and Exporting All the latest information on tariffs and non-tariff barriers - if you import or export you'll find helpful resources here.
  • Running your Business Your customers may be checking their supply chains and some of you report back that you're also putting in the ground work to ensure continuity of service.
  • Employment Do you have staff from the EU? Here's what you - and they - need to know.
  • Northern Ireland Based in Northern Ireland, find more information here.
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