For commercial lawyers in the UK there are a number of significant changes on the horizon, none of them are imminent, but they highlight the unique (and uncertain) position the UK finds itself in post-Brexit and they have the potential for major impacts on UK businesses if/when they go ahead.

Potentially the most disruptive is the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill which recently had its first reading in the House of Lords. This proposes a deadline, the end of 2023, by which the government must either adopt thousands of EU regulations into UK law or see them scrapped. This would involve reviewing rules on a wide range of issues from electrical safety to holiday pay to food safety and much more, and could represent deregulation on a scale never seen before. Despite many commenting that the civil service doesn’t have the capacity to undertake such work within the timescale proposed and opposition parties mobilising to challenge the plans, the government is pressing on with the changes and has rejected suggestions that the deadline might be pushed back to the end of 2024 or 2026.

At the same time the UK watches in interest the EU’s progress towards approving an adequacy decision for the EU-US Data Privacy Framework which, once adopted, would enable entities in the EU to transfer personal data to US companies certified by the Department of Commerce under the Framework without needing additional safeguards such as incorporating the standard contractual clauses into contracts. This would been a big practical step forward for EU organisations and many organisations here may expect (or hope) the UK to follow suit and, rather than diverging from what the EU is doing, adopt a similar simplified approach.

Environmental protection is another major area where the UK may follow the EU’s lead rather than do things differently, particularly given the UK’s commitments to climate and energy security at COP27. So, for example, will the UK introduce legislation to reduce packaging waste and promote “closed loop” recycling along similar lines to that being planned in the EU? As has been the case on many occasions since the Brexit vote, we wait and watch…

This contribution was made by Cathrine Ripley, partner in the Commercial Contracts team, at our British member firm Field Seymour Parkes

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