Trade partner and Brexit Steering Committee lead Ross Denton gave evidence to the House of Lords EU External Affairs Sub-Committee today as part of their inquiry into the UK's sanctions policy post-Brexit.

Giving evidence alongside Brick Court Chambers' Maya Lester QC, Ross said:

The UK takes an important position in the development and promulgation of EU sanctions [and this]…forms part of a major backbone of the EU's sanctions regime.

Once the UK leaves the EU, Ross explained, the nature of the sanctions regime will change: "There will be an ability for the UK to take an independent view and take its own sanctions policy." However, he said, this will result in a diminution of the UK's overall influence on relevant policy which is currently amplified by EU membership. The EU-27, in turn, may not undertake new or renew old sanctions without the UK "holding their feet to the fire" and their sanctions policy may become less activist. As a result, there is a possibility that the UK could align itself with the US which operates a similar stance towards sanctions.

Looking ahead beyond Brexit, clear guidance from UK agencies will be vital in enabling businesses to comply with sanctions policy, which would ultimately lower the costs of sanctions for legitimate businesses, he said.

The EU Sub-Committee, chaired by Baroness Verma, launched their inquiry into sanctions policy on 31 March 2017 and will cover:

  • the advantages and disadvantages of future co-operation between the UK and the EU on sanctions policy;
  • how such co-operation might take place;
  • examples of EU co-ordination with non-Member States on sanctions;
  • the current sanctions regime and how this will be transposed into UK law, including through the Great Repeal Bill;
  • and the impact of a separate UK sanctions regime on the UK’s ability to achieve its foreign policy goals.

With over 200 International trade specialists, Baker & McKenzie’s International Trade Group is the largest and one of the most experienced trade sanctions practices. The Firm has dedicated sanctions experts strategically situated across 38 markets, including most of the world’s key financial centres. To find out more, please visit the team's blog - and Brexit blog.

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