At the Shifting World Dynamics and the Evolving Workplace: Global labour law conference which will be held in Hong Kong on 6th October, James Davies from Lewis Silkin will be speaking on Busting Brexit myths in our first session.

Last June, the British people spoke and, in what has turned into one of the biggest and most divisive political changes in the country for generations, voted to leave the EU. The challenges for the Government are immense and well-documented, with the clock ticking away on the two-year timeline imposed by serving notice to the EU under Article 50 of the UK’s withdrawal.

The vote itself was dogged by supposition and claims and counter-claims about “fake news” - not surprising given that this was an event that had barely been considered previously and was certainly not fully prepared for. The scale and process is not understood and, while politicians face off across the negotiating tables, there is plenty to consider and understand about what the implications are likely to be. The sustained interest in this issue is why we decided it should be covered at the conference, where we will explore three questions:

Where are we with Brexit process? Is there any progress or clarity?

Is it certain that Brexit will happen? There have been legal challenges to a number of aspects of the process and the Government’s power to reach a settlement without Parliament. Assuming Brexit does happen, what will be the form of the ultimate agreement? Will there be a transitional agreement and, if so, what will it look like? Will supporters of a “soft” or “hard” approach prevail, or will the final result be somewhere along the spectrum.

Implications for trading with Britain

A key reason why so-called Brexiteers voted to leave to leave the EU was the opportunity they see for Britain to negotiate better, bilateral trade agreements as opposed to being represented by the bloc. How should we be looking at Brexit from a globalisation and free-trade perspective? How might this affect businesses in regions such as Asia which have such strong trade links?

Step changes in the law?

In stepping out of the EU, Britain will have to revisit a significant body of its law that is mandated under European legislation. With regard to employment law, this in theory means the potential to repeal discrimination laws, collective consultation obligations, family leave and working time rules. Some of this predates the laws imposed by Europe, so is unlikely to be entirely rewritten, but changes may be introduced over time. The exact relationship between UK courts and the European Court of Justice will be one of the items on the negotiating table, but firms employing individuals in the UK will need to be fully aware of how this matter develops.

Brexit will be just one of the topics we will be delving into at the conference, along with the impact of Macron, BRI, flexible working arrangements and workplace stress.

The conference is hosted together with Ius Laboris and in collaboration with the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. Further information and registration details are available here.