"It is difficult to make predictions - especially about the future".
This oft-quoted adage (apparently of Danish heritage) comes quickly to mind when one contemplates how the UK's relationship with the EU will look come 30th March this year. And whilst many commentators predicted that Brexit negotiations would not be straightforward, few expected that so many fundamental issues would remain unresolved over two and half years after the EU referendum.
One consequence of this uncertainty is that many businesses have already pressed the button on implementing their Brexit planning. However, for a number of businesses, resourcing and other pressures may mean that it is simply not an option to incur costs around such mitigation measures unless and until we have certainty as to how the UK's relationship with the EU will look.
And, of course, even if the Prime Minster's deal manages to secure the approval of Parliament, the detailed future trade relationship between the UK and EU will remain up for grabs. Uncertainty doesn't look like it's going away at any time soon.
For those living, working or investing in Scotland, we also need to layer on top of these Brexit negotiation questions, the issues arising in the Westminster and Holyrood Parliaments on the enabling legislation and the transfer of powers post Brexit from Brussels to London and Edinburgh. And that's before we get on to the IndyRef 2 question.
Again, it seems unlikely that we will have detailed answers to these questions imminently. Indeed, given that the Indyref 2 debate is being driven by the prospect of there being a material change in the nature of the UK's relationship with the EU, then it would not seem unreasonable to await clarification on the specific nature of that future relationship, before attempting to crystallise what this then means for Scotland's relationship with the rest of the UK.
Amidst this uncertainty, the one thing we do know is that the world will keep turning. The planning and decision making which businesses and individuals make about the future will still require to be made and whilst there is an understandable desire to take stock, few businesses or individuals will be willing to sit on their hands forever.
We are a firm which works across a wide range of sectors and with a wide range of clients - from large PLCs, owner-managed businesses, major clearing banks and angel investors to housebuilders, property developers, central and local government and private individuals. This allows us to take a broad view, whilst also seeing how the impact of Brexit-related issues can be quite different both between and within specific sectors.
So our task is to continue to work with our clients to assess what it means for each of them specifically, with the benefit of what we can see happening across the range of sectors we work in.
Use the interactive timeline below to see how the Brexit road map has unfolded so far. You can also read about the Brexit related issues facing business, real state, the public sector and individuals and families as detailed by our legal experts.
Deadline for all EU citizens living in the UK to have applied for a status document
Transition period ends and free movement is due to stop
United Kingdom leaves the European Union
Brexit as an agent of change in a time of even wider change in Westminster politics as we know it….
It is possible we have just seen one of the most important weeks of modern parliamentary and constitutional history. It is evident that we don't yet know what the implications of that week will mean for Brexit or for UK politics. It may be many months, if not years, before that becomes apparent. Predicting what the next political moves will be both in the UK and the EU is not for the fainthearted. What is clear however is that political certainties remain "certainties" no longer thanks to all that has been happening in this unpredictable Brexit world.Read more
No deal for family lawyers
Family briefing: a survey of some ground rules for family lawyers in cross-border cases that will no longer apply in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and what might happen in their placeRead more
Brexit - the best laid plans
The vote of 23 June 2016 will surely be seen by future modern political historians as a game changer for the United Kingdom, possibly also for Scotland and potentially for the direction of travel of the EU.Read more
Courts, Legislation and Politics……
This weekend the UK has managed to touch on Brexit uncertainty in all three branches of the constitution: in Parliament, in the Executive and in the Courts.Read more
What happens to immigration in the event of a no deal Brexit?
With Brexit fast approaching, and still no agreement in Westminster about the way ahead, the UK Government have announced transitional measures for immigration in the event of a no deal Brexit.Read more
Government wins debate on "Plan B". Prime Minister to go back to the European Union on Withdrawal agreement
Impact of Brexit on GDPR and international data flows
Complying with all aspects of GDPR is by no means an easy matter. Employers have invested many hours updating their contracts of employment, drafting privacy notices and data privacy policies, as well as updating their IT policies.Read more
Home Office starts to accept applications for settled status on trial basis
Transitional arrangements for Brexit impacts on Consumer Credit regime
Our previous note on the Consumer Credit (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1038) detailed some minor fiddling with the Consumer Credit regulatory regime in anticipation of 'exit day' - currently still scheduled for 29 March 2019.Read more
Meaningful Vote finally, but what does it actually mean?
Yesterday evening just after 7.30pm was one of those "Wow" Westminster moments. After eight days of debate and 381 speeches, most people expected the Commons to reject Mrs May's Brexit plan when they finally had the chance to hold their "Meaningful Vote" on Tuesday evening.Read more
Government wins vote of no confidence laid by opposition by 19 votes
Meaningful vote - Government loses by 230 votes.
Brexit won't change the fundamentals of business
We all know the feeling when stress or anxiety in one walk of life spills over into another. Research has proven that when people are anxious about one issue, it lingers.Read more
Government publishes updated no deal brexit guidance on UK nationals living in the EU
Supreme court issues decision that the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity)(Scotland) Bill was now outside legislative competence
Theresa May wins vote of no confidence in her leadership of conservative party
Court of justice of the European Union gives judgement in Wightman case that Article 50 can be revoked
Brexit Ho ho ho …
Every time you think that the Brexit world can not surprise you any more, it does just that. Not only do we have to remember the last posting dates for Christmas, we have another three dates to remember arising from court cases in London and Luxemburg, and a "meaningful vote" in Westminster to look forward to. We assume recent rumours of the vote cancellation are misplaced.Read more
Attorney General publishes his legal advice to the cabinet on the Ireland/Northern Ireland border protocol
EU27 endorse the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration
Dominic Raab resigns and is replaced by Stephen Barclay
Withdrawal agreement and political declaration published
Government publishes first no deal Brexit technical notices for guidance
Government publishes white paper on future UK - EU relations - The Chequers agreement
David Davis resigns as secretary of state for exiting the EU. Replaced by Dominic Raab.
European Union (withdrawal) act receives Royal Assent
Brexit to do list….
For some of us there is something comforting about putting together a list of things which need to be done and by when. There is then the satisfaction of ticking the items off as done and seeing the list reduce. However perhaps this might not be the best time for those in Whitehall and Holyrood to write down their Brexit "to do" list as a means of cheering themselves up.Read more
EU approves negotiation guidelines for future EU/UK relationship post Brexit
United Kingdom Withdrawal from the European Union (legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill passed by Scottish Parliament
The Scottish EU Legal Continuity Bill notching up a number of firsts…
On 27 February 2018 the Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill was introduced into the Scottish Parliament. It may not have the catchiest title ever but this relatively short Bill is already clocking up a number of firsts.Read more
Brexit and the snow - a perfect storm?
Last week was a strange week when the "Beast from the East" met "Storm Emma" and managed to bring most of the UK to a standstill in a blast of snow and ice. This was to be the week, however, when the Brexit hot air of the last couple of months was to morph into a series of focused ministerial speeches and proposals to enable decision makers in the UK: to move forward with Brexit planning; take informed steps for the future; and set out a platform for the next stage of Brexit negotiations.Read more
EU Draft withdrawal Agreement legal text published
Brexit and Family Law
Lucia takes part in a round table evidence session of the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament, looking at the consequences of Brexit for family law.Read more
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill introduced into the House of Lords
EU agrees to move on to phase 2 negotiations
Why Henry VIII is alive and well at Westminster...
Before Brexit, for most lawyers, Henry VIII was no more than a historical, rotund, Tudor character who managed to work his way through six wives. For the constitutional lawyer bells may have rung around a rather obscure drafting issue relating to powers in legislation.Read more
Sewel, Legislative Consent Motions and Brexit
On 21 July 1998 Lord Sewel was a Government Minister tasked with taking the Scotland Bill through the House of Lords.Read more
Brexit: Strategies for retaining and recruiting talent in uncertain times
Since the UK voted to leave the EU we have increasingly been asked to advise on what the immigration system may look like in the future.Read more
Theresa May delivers a speech in Florence on Brexit laying out her offer to introduce a transition period after the UK formally leaves the European Union in March 2019.
The Repeal Bill – a legal perspective on the realities of the process
The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill has now been published. This is a major legislative step for the UK in leaving the European Union and achieving Brexit. In many ways the Bill contains few legal surprises. It now has a more formal "parliamentary" title than the earlier soundbite version of "The Great Repeal Bill".Read more
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill introduced into the House of Commons
UK Government announces its position on EU nationals after Brexit
The UK Government has published its position on the rights of EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit.Read more
It is almost a year since the UK Brexit Referendum vote on 23 June 2016. On that day, no one could have predicted where the UK would be now and all that has happened in the interim; legally, economically and politically.Read more
Formal Brexit negotiations commence
UK General Election
Whatever next? Another election and visit to the polling booth…..
When I turned 18 my idealistic young self promised that since women had gone through so much to obtain the vote, that I would always exercise my democratic right and vote when I had the chance.Read more
Brexit: The end of the beginning
"Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." These famous words from Churchill, in a speech given nearly 75 years ago, provide an almost perfect description of where we are in the journey towards Brexit, following the Article 50 notice having been given at the end of March.Read more
A week is a long time in politics; at least it is in a Brexit world.
Monday was a quiet day but full of constitutional expectation. Tuesday saw the continued debate on and a vote in the Scottish Parliament seeking authority for the Scottish Government to apply to the UK Government for a section 30 Order under the Scotland Act 1998 to allow a further Scottish Independence Referendum to be held.Read more
EU Draft Guidelines response drafted
A nine-page document containing the EU’s draft Brexit negotiating guidelinesRead the document
Publication of The Great Repeal Bill: White Paper
Legislating for the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European UnionRead the paper
Article 50 triggered
Prime Minister Theresa May writes to European Council President Donald Tusk to notify him of the UK’s intention to leave the EU.Read more
Brexit: Immigration and the Retail and Leisure Sectors
Since the UK voted to leave the EU I have spoken with many employers who have concerns about the implications of the decision for their EU staff members. These concerns apply across all sectors but there are particular concerns in the retail and leisure sectors.Read more
Section 30 and the real start of another Scottish Independence Referendum campaign
This morning the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon fired the official starting gun for the next Scottish Independence Referendum campaign.Read more
Dutch Prime Ministerial Election
The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill is introduced into the House of Commons
A Bill to confer power on the Prime Minister to notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.Read more
The Supreme Court decide on Article 50
The Supreme Court have now issued their judgement on whether the UK Government need to consult the Westminster Parliament before triggering Article 50 to start the formal process to take the UK out of the EU.Read more
Prime Minister announces there will be a White Paper on Brexit
Supreme Court decision in Miller & Ors v The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
The United Kingdom Supreme Court rules that the UK Government may not initiate withdrawal from the European Union by formal notification to the Council of the European Union as prescribed by Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union without an Act of the UK Parliament permitting the government to do soRead the decision
Prime Minister's Speech on UK negotiating position
Scottish Government Consultation on a Draft Referendum Bill closes
The Scottish Government publish "Scotland's Place in Europe
The Scottish Government have today published their promised paper setting out how they consider Scotland's interests could be protected in the Brexit negotiations once Article 50 has been triggered. They also provide outcomes they consider the UK Government should seek to meet those Scottish interests.Read more
Scottish Government Publication Of "Scotland's Place in Europe" paper on SG preferred EU Brexit options
Scotland’s Place in Europe sets out the Scottish Government’s position following the result of the EU Referendum.Read the publication
Supreme Court Hearings in Miller & Ors v The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
Article 50 Before the High Court in London - In R (on the application of Miller and Ors) v The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
Can the Government trigger Article 50 TEU to take the UK out of the EU by exercising the Crown prerogative? It is a short but constitutionally complex question, that has already been the subject of much external comment.Read more
Scottish Government Publication of "Scotland: A European Nation"
This publication outlines the historical, political and constitutional context that gives legitimacy to Scotland’s voice in the Brexit debate.Read the publication
Indyref 2 - Consultation on a Draft Referendum Bill
A Consultation on a Draft Referendum Bill was published this morning by the Scottish Government, all as trailed by the First Minister at the recent SNP Conference. The Bill being proposed is, essentially, an application of the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013, which governed the procedures at the last Independence Referendum, to any new Referendum. There are some technical changes as suggested by the Electoral Commission after the 2014 vote and some updating of practice to make the process work better.Read more
Scottish Government Consultation on a Draft Referendum Bill
This consultation paper invited views on the proposals for how the referendum would be run. A draft Scottish Independence Referendum bill is set out as an appendix to the document.Read the consultation
The Apple Dispute: A Fundamental Issue for the EU
On 30 August 2016 the EU Commission ruled that Ireland was in breach of the EU state aid rules by reaching decisions which substantially and artificially lowered the tax paid by Apple in Ireland since 1991 in a way which had no factual or economic justification.Read more
Brexit: A Litigator's Reflections
Almost exactly 20 years ago today I set off for the Netherlands to spend a year on the ERASMUS programme studying at the University of Leiden. In Edinburgh we now have to prepare for life outside the EU while Leiden remains at the heart of it.Read more
Employment Law: Implications for Businesses of Leaving the EU
Innes Clark and Kate McGarrity look at the potential implications of Brexit on UK employment law and are joined by, Stuart McWilliams, one of our immigration specialists who provides his own thoughts on the possible consequences of Brexit.Read more
Brexit - Immigration FAQ's for employers
Our immigration expert, Stuart McWilliams, answers your frequently asked questions about Brexit and immigration.Read more
Brexit? Don't panic...
Property briefing: despite the shock to the commercial property market from the Brexit vote, the fundamentals remain quite strong, and those in the sector should stay level-headed as to its prospects.Read more
BREXIT, Patents, Trade marks and Data Protection: FAQ for Businesses
With Brexit foremost in the minds of many organisations at present, here we give a short summary on the current situation with regard to European patents and European Union trade marks, and what measures to take regarding data protection compliance.Read more
Niche no longer for constitutional lawyers as changes continue
The constitutional lawyer was a niche breed 20 years ago. We in the know knew who they were. They might usually be found working for Government, north and south of the border or in academia. They wrote the odd article or book. Their work was referred to in university law faculty lectures but otherwise they did not impinge much on the consciousness of the man on the "Clapham Omnibus", and it was definitely a man in those days.Read more
Brexit update: One month on
We are almost one month on from the EU vote, and what a roller coaster of a month it has been. After the initial shock of the implications of the vote, certainly in Scotland, are we any clearer on the legal questions?Read more
Brexit and Employee Relocation
Gordon Kerr of our Employee Mobility Unit discusses with colleagues in our immigration team what Brexit means for multi-national employers and their international workforces.Read more
Putting Some of the Hysteria into Perspective
In the commercial property sector, share prices in some of the big housebuilders have fallen, and more recently Aviva, M&G, Standard Life Investments and other funds have suspended trading in their big property funds.Read more
Brexit and Article 50 TEU
After the EU referendum decision commentators are telling us that we are living in legally, politically and financially turbulent times. It is likely that events will now move more slowly as decisions are made to resolve outstanding questions. It is also important to remember that much of what will be happening in the legal and business world will not change. The challenge will be recognising which changes in circumstances will be important for us in the months and years ahead.Read more
What are the employment law implications of the UK leaving the EU?
Honouring their manifesto commitment, the Conservative government called an "in-out" EU Referendum on Thursday 23 June 2016, and after more than 40 years the UK will no longer be part of the European Union. At the time of writing David Cameron has confirmed he will stand down as prime minister and Jeremy Corbyn is desperately trying to hang on to his leadership of the Labour party. But apart from political melt down, what does this mean for employment law in the UK?Read more
Scottish Government First Minister Advisory Council set up
Podcast: Brexit & Immigration
Our immigration team discuss the Brexit vote and what the consequences might be for immigration law.Read more
Immigration Implications for Employers and Individuals
The UK has voted to leave the EU and this will have a significant impact for immigration, both for individuals and employers so - what happens next?Read more
Wealth Management statement on Brexit
Through today's referendum result the UK electorate have indicated their belief that any costs of leaving the EU are more than offset by the potential benefits of an independent life outside.Read more
Brexit Referendum Vote
Read the full result of the Brexit vote hereRead the full results