Current issues

Modernisation of the European dual-use export control regime:

In September 2016, the European Commission published a proposal to amend the legislation underpinning the current European dual-use export control regime: the EU Dual Use Regulation. The proposed changes aim to harmonise and simplify the rules, and introduce a new “human security” dimension to the existing European dual-use export control regime. The proposal was approved by the International Trade Committee in the European Parliament at the end of November 2017 and will now be voted on by all MEPs in a European Parliament plenary session (scheduled for January 2018). The impact of this re-cast Regulation on the UK depends on how long it takes to go through the EU legislative process, and what is agreed between the UK and the EU in relation to Brexit.

Legality of UK strategic military licensing regime:

On 10 July 2017, the High Court ruled that the government had acted lawfully in continuing to authorise transfers and sales of strategic military items to Saudi Arabia, despite concerns about how those items were being used in the on-going conflict in Yemen. The Campaign Against Arms Trade, which brought the judicial review, plans to appeal the ruling. Nonetheless, at least in the short term, the ruling provides certainty for defence businesses exporting from the UK that extant export licenses will remain valid and the governmental decision-making process for future licensing decisions will remain unchanged.

Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill:

The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 18 October 2017 and is currently passing through the Committee Stage. It will then pass through the House of Commons and is expected to gain Royal Assent during 2018. The Bill will make provision for sanctions to be imposed where appropriate for the purposes of compliance with United Nations obligations or other international obligations or for the purposes of furthering the prevention of terrorism. The current draft of the Bill gives wide delegated powers to Ministers to make sanctions regulations that are “appropriate” in certain defined circumstances, and to designate individuals and entities.

Dates for the diary

16 January 2018 Plenary session scheduled for first reading of recast EU Dual Use Regulation.
July 2018 UK government due to publish UK Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2017. This report will cover the UK’s export control policy and practice during the period January 2017 to December 2017.
Throughout 2018 If CAAT is granted the right to appeal, the Court of Appeal hearing is expected to hear appeal of judicial review decision on transfers of strategic military items to Saudi Arabia.
Throughout 2018 The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill continues to pass through the legislative process.