On Thursday 23 June 2016, the UK electorate voted to leave the European Union. While this vote was advisory in nature, we expect that ultimately the UK Government and Parliament will respect the outcome and serve notice to terminate the UK’s membership of the EU, thereby commencing a negotiation of the terms of both the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and of a framework for its new relationship with the EU and its other trading partners. This memorandum focuses on some of the main legal and commercial impacts of the UK’s proposed exit, across a broad range of commercial and industrial areas where UK business may be impacted or English law is used.
We start with a brief look at the UK legal basis for incorporation of EU law, and then analyse the impacts of Brexit in the context of specific commercial issues: M&A, capital markets, finance, tax and privacy. This is relevant for industries such as financial institutions, manufacturing, export, retail, defence, energy and consumer products. Our separate note published on 24 June addressed certain key financial regulatory issues, and a note dated 21 March discusses the various options for a post-Brexit UK-EU relationship. This note also considers the withdrawal process under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (the Lisbon Treaty) and the possible ramifications for Scotland and other parts of the UK.