Despite being 15,195 kilometres apart, Britain’s decision to leave Europe has been described by some as a ‘king hit’ to Australia. Whilst Australia is unlikely to suffer any permanent scars from this blow, Australia will be forced to manage some pain and confusion over the foreseeable future.

Others are more upbeat. Brexit initially resulted in the pound depreciating to a 31-year low against the Australian Dollar (AUD) potentially making Australia a more attractive destination for skilled UK workers.

If sustained, it also makes imports comparatively cheap. Others refer to the opportunity for Australia to drive a hard bargain with the UK in upcoming bilateral trade negotiations and possibly return the trade relationship to its pre-1973 state.

Impact on Australia

The uncertainty surrounding Brexit has primarily impacted Australian financial markets where listed companies with UK exposure such as BT Investment Management lost up to 25% in value within one month of the Brexit announcement.

Politically, Brexit has come at a sensitive time. Australia will lose its mouthpiece inside the EU just as it commences the early stages of renegotiating a trade agreement with the EU.

Brexit also impacts the 1.5 million or so Australian’s with dual Australian/UK citizenship.

Many young Australians have been motivated to obtain British citizenship based on ancestry with one eye on access to the broader EU work market.

It has also impacted a large number of Australian businesses that use the UK as their regional headquarters, some of which may be motivated to relocate to mainland Europe.

Legal implications for Australian Practitioners

Intellectual Property

Currently, EU-wide IP protection is afforded to Australians through EUIPO registration. It is unclear what will happen to existing EU registrations after Brexit.

On one view, Australian IP owners currently registered under EUIPO may be required to refile their applications in the UK to maintain UK protection resulting in increased registration costs.

Validity questions may also arise over EU registered marks whose geographical use is specific to the UK.

Injunctive relief

Australian applicants seeking pan-European injunctive relief for IP infringement may now be required to initiate proceedings in the UK and EU separately which will increase enforcement costs.

Contracts

Australian contracts that describe an underlying territory to be the “member states of the European Union” will need to be reviewed as the contract’s coverage may no longer include the UK despite initial intentions to do so.

Moving Forward

At the time of writing, the implications of Brexit for Australia are only starting to emerge. Time will tell the extent to which it will be seen as a nuisance or an opportunity for the Australian economy.

This article was originally published by UK law firm, Ward Hadaway. The original article can be viewed here.