Transposing more than 40 years of EU legislations is not straightforward, including when it comes to EU sanctions laws. In this context, UK secondary legislations are needed to replace references in sanctions laws to Member States and the EU with references to the UK and replace references to the competent authorities with references to the UK Treasury.

Over the past few weeks, a significant amount of UK sanctions legislations was put before Parliament under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act to do just that, and prepare for the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

The recent proposed legislations will ensure that aspects of the financial sanctions regimes will continue to be implemented after the UK leaves the EU in relation to Afghanistan, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Egypt, Guinea, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria (in relation to the 14 February 2005 terrorist bombing in Beirut), the Maldives, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, the Ukraine and Yemen.

Last Friday, additional proposals covered Burma, Iran (human rights) and Venezuela sanctions regimes.

What does this mean for you?

Were the UK to leave without a deal on 29 March 2019, the UK Government has confirmed that it will look to carry over all EU sanctions regulations into UK laws at the time of departure.

Any sanctions regimes that the UK Government did not address, through regulations under the Sanctions Act by March 2019, will continue as retained EU law under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

This means that we do not expect any gaps in implementing existing sanctions regimes.

The UK Government has also published statutory guidance to accompany these secondary legislations.

What will the UK sanctions regime be post-Brexit?

After the UK will has left the EU, as international law requires, the UK Government will continue to implement UN sanctions in UK domestic law.

The UK Government will also look to carry over all EU sanctions at the time of its departure, and has confirmed that the UK’s sanctions regulations will include:

  • The purposes of the sanctions regime (what the UK hopes will be achieved through imposing sanctions).
  • The criteria to be met before sanctions can be imposed on a person or group.
  • Details of sanctions, such as trade and financial sanctions.
  • Details of exemptions that may apply, such as exemptions which allow people to trade with a certain country that would otherwise be prohibited by the regulations.
  • How we will enforce the sanctions measures.
  • Other areas, such as circumstances in which information about sanctions may be shared.

The UK Government will continue to publish the names of sanctioned persons or organisations.

Regulations would be published as normal alongside guidance.

But in the future, the UK Government will also have the powers to adopt other sanctions under the Sanctions Act, separately and independently from what the EU does.

In this, the impact of Brexit on UK sanctions laws is far-reaching.

Going forward, one cannot exclude a significant divergence in the future of UK sanctions from what the EU will do on its own.

This could lead to additional compliance burdens for businesses and financial institutions, which will have to deal with multiple and increasingly complex sanctions regimes.

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