As we have reported previously, the result of the European Union referendum (Brexit) was announced on 24 June 2016 with a vote in favour of the United Kingdom exiting.

We have issued a series of Brexit updates since the date of the referendum. To access such prior alerts, please visit our Brexit page.

UK government publishes second batch of technical notes detailing plans in the event of a no-deal Brexit

The UK government has published a further 28 technical papers that set out contingency plans in the event that no Brexit deal is agreed with the EU when the UK departs on 29 March 2019.

The second batch of technical papers, which are designed to give advice to citizens and businesses, cover areas including cross-border insolvency co-operation and merger control. We reported on the publication of the first batch of technical papers on 29 August 2018, which covered various sectors including financial services and trade. A third batch of technical papers is expected to be published by the end of September 2018.

In advance of the publication of the second batch of technical papers, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab stated that the UK is “stepping up no deal preparations so that Britain can continue to flourish, regardless of the outcome of negotiations”. The UK government’s position on a no-deal Brexit has recently been confirmed by British Prime Minister Theresa May in an interview with the BBC, where she announced that Parliament will have a choice between her proposed deal with the EU or no deal at all.

A summary of the key points contained within the second batch of technical papers concerning civil cases / cross-border insolvency, trading goods, merger control, data protection and travel are laid out below.

Civil cases / cross-border insolvency
  • The UK would repeal most of the civil judicial co-operation rules applicable to EU member states and use the domestic rules which the UK legal system currently applies in relation to non-EU countries.
  • The majority of the European Insolvency Regulation, which includes the recognition of cross-border insolvency proceedings, would be repealed in the UK. Therefore, it would be possible to open insolvency proceedings under any of the tests set out under UK law irrespective of whether the debtor is based elsewhere in Europe.
  • The UK would also continue to apply existing international agreements, such as the Hague Conventions.
Trading goods
  • The UK would no longer fall within the scope of the mutual recognition principle.
  • UK businesses exporting certain manufactured goods, including furniture, textiles and bicycles (“non-harmonised goods”), will need to consider the national requirements of the first EU country that they export to.
  • UK businesses that have already exported a non-harmonised good to an EU country by meeting the relevant national requirements will not need to take any specific action.
Merger control
  • The UK will cease to be part of the EU competition regime. However, the domestic UK competition regime will remain in place as the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), and other sectoral regulators, will continue to investigate possible breaches of UK competition law.
  • Mergers that currently meet the relevant EU thresholds would be reviewed by both the CMA and the European Commission.
  • Existing agreements between companies that benefited from the parallel application of an EU exemption to the UK antitrust prohibitions prior to the UK exiting the EU should continue to benefit from the exemption in the UK.
Data protection
  • There would be no immediate change to the UK’s data protection standards as the EU Withdrawal Act would incorporate the General Data Protection Regulation (commonly referred to as “GDPR”) into UK law.
  • The UK will seek an “adequacy decision” from the EU to allow the free flow of personal data to countries outside of the EU.
  • In the context of travelling in the Common Travel Area (an open borders area between the UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands) Irish citizens would continue to have the right to enter and remain in the UK, and enjoy the reciprocal rights associated with the Common Travel Area as British citizens would have in Ireland.
  • Those travelling to the EU with a British passport will be considered third country nationals under the Schengen Border Code. The passport of anyone travelling to the Schengen area after March 2019 should have at least six months’ validity and have been issued within the last 10 years on the date of arrival in a Schengen country. Entry requirements will need to be checked for those travelling with a British passport to non-Shengen EU countries.

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Mark Dorff

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Neil Micklethwaite

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