The Sanctions and Anti Money Laundering Bill (the Bill), which seeks to create a post-Brexit legislative framework for the imposition and enforcement of sanctions in the UK, was published on 19 October 2017. The Bill is expected to enter the Committee stage on 21 November 2017. The Bill provides the Government with broad discretionary powers in respect of the following types of sanctions: financial, trade, aircraft, immigration, shipping and other sanctions for the purpose of upholding UN obligations. The details of such sanctions will be set out in secondary legislation. In addition, the Bill gives the Government broad powers to amend the UK’s existing anti-money laundering (AML) regime, although the Bill itself does not implement any new AML requirements.

The Bill reflects the Government’s stated intention to allow for a flexible approach to sanctions and provides for the creation of exceptions and the granting of licences in relation to any sanctions, including a new power for the Government to issue general licenses to permit particular types of conduct. This a more flexible approach by comparison to underlying European Union (EU) legislation.

The Bill is not designed to introduce any substantive changes to policies with regards to the current sanctions regime. Rather, its central purpose is to make it easier to impose sanctions and to achieve consistency post-Brexit. This will allow the UK to continue to implement and maintain EU law imposed by sanctions regimes but will also give the UK independence to decide how to respond to future events.

The Bill includes certain rights for individuals and entities, including the right to challenge their inclusion on sanctions lists by making an application to the High Court in England. The Bill also gives powers to “appropriate authorities” to impose restrictions on the disclosure of information and to inspect documents.

The Bill is necessary given the number of EU sanctions that will no longer apply to the UK post-Brexit. However, it is yet to be seen how the UK will utilise the broad powers provided by the Bill. The current position indicated by the Government is that the UK will not look to diverge from EU policy and it is expected that the UK will continue to collaborate with the EU to achieve a coordinated approach.