Tip #1: don’t shoot the messenger. I won’t burden this article with political views, and I know lawyers arguably benefit from disruption, but now is not the time to let sentiment get in the way of expedience.
Tip #2: If you continue to trade with European customers, and if you will handle personal data for EU citizens, here is a mini GDPR checklist:
• If you are a data processor for a European data controller (you will probably know if you are), be ready for requests for ‘Standard Contractual Clauses’; ICO guidance here.
• If you find that you have to sign ‘Standard Contractual Clauses’, there could be ramifications if you use other UK service providers for hosting servers, data storage or to do work on personal data. There’s no ICO guidance on this yet – it’s something that would merit legal advice
• Be careful about signing common data protection clauses that prohibit processing data outside the EEA – it’s likely that the UK will be outside the EEA
Tip #3: don’t rush into migrating to EU data centres unless you have other business reasons to do so, or you have complex requirements that need a long implementation period. In addition to doubt about whether Brexit will happen, even the most ardent leavers don’t want to obstruct data flows between the UK and Europe. The ICO is committed to having the UK recognised as a country providing ‘adequate’ data protection laws. It might take a while, but most commentators expect the UK to become a GDPR-recognised jurisdiction. Storing data in an EU data centre doesn’t circumvent the GDPR issues if you nevertheless continue to access that data from the UK.
Tip #4: beware of companies selling services that you must buy to continue working in Europe. We are already seeing emails from vendors that over-state the necessity for their services.
Tip #5: If you use a domain name ending with .eu, consider the rules about eligibility to use or renew that domain. Official notice here.
Tip #6: Apply (and pay) the correct VAT rates. The rules will change for invoicing between the UK and Europe. This could be a trip-hazard if you have invoice templates set up on an accounting system which automatically recur. Guidance here.
Tip #7: don’t lose sight of non-Brexit changes on the way. April 2020 sees the arrival of new IR35 rules that affect responsibility for taxation of contractors. Many contractors work in IT. Guidance here.
For more information and advice, please contact Charles Drayson on 07711 007 817 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.