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Brexit: the long goodbye

15 Mar 2019
The Parliamentary week began with a stark choice between the UK government's Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration (WA) and a "no deal" Brexit. The week has ended with no real change. Next week, the government will seek for the third time to secure approval for the WA in order to obtain a short "technical extension" to the Article 50 notice period so that the necessary legislation can be passed. If the WA were to be rejected again, then the government would have to ask for a longer extension, and that request might be vetoed by any EU member state. Consequently, the House of Commons still faces a choice between the government's WA and "no deal".
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Brexit: going through the motions

14 Mar 2019
On 13 March the UK government tabled a motion to determine whether the House of Commons wished to rule out a "no deal" Brexit on 29 March. By a narrow margin of 4 votes the government's motion was amended to make it clear that the House of Commons wished to rule out "no deal" not just on 29 March, but at any time. The government then issued an instruction to Conservative party MPs to vote against the amended motion. Despite that, the amended motion passed with an increased majority of 43.
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Brexit: temporary tariff rates

13 Mar 2019
The UK government has published details of the temporary rates of customs duty it would impose on imports should a "no deal" Brexit occur.  Under the temporary regime, the government expects 87% of total imports to be tariff-free.
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WBD celebrates transatlantic and regional innovation with International Innovation Week

13 Mar 2019
From 18-22 March, Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) is holding an International Innovation Week. Now in its third year, the celebration will see 18 events taking place in the UK and US, looking at innovative technology that is transforming the legal industry and other sectors, how businesses challenge themselves to develop more efficient processes, and new ways of engaging with clients to embed a culture of innovation.
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Brexit: a leap of faith

12 Mar 2019
"Best endeavours" clauses and the concept of "good faith" are used when parties either cannot, or will not, accept an absolute obligation to deliver a particular result.  Even if one party is found not to have tried hard enough, or to have fallen short of the requirement of "good faith", that does not automatically mean that the other can simply walk away. Article 178 of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) merely provides that if either the EU or the UK is found to have acted in breach of those obligations, then there would be a temporary suspension of parts of the agreement while further negotiations take place. There is no provision for unilateral termination of the WA, or of the "backstop" provided by the Northern Ireland protocol, should that come into effect. From a legal perspective, that position remains essentially unchanged by the additional documents that emerged from the Strasbourg talks on 11 March.
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No-deal for the insurance sector: a look across Europe

12 Mar 2019
We are now in the final few weeks before the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union. If the UK leaves the EU without a transitional period or agreed withdrawal terms, ie on ‘hard’ Brexit terms, at the end of March the UK will be abruptly removed from the regulatory ‘passporting’ framework that allows insurance contracts to be entered into and serviced on a cross-border basis. The UK regulators have been open in communicating about their preparations to ensure continuity of insurance contracts and protection of policyholders if there is a ‘hard’ Brexit.  In this article we take a look at how a number of European Member States have similarly been planning for a hard Brexit scenario, in particular in terms of contract continuity and how insurers may service existing insurance contracts.
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Can UK pension plans influence good governance in listed companies?

12 Mar 2019
On February 4 2019, after nearly four years of litigation, and a three-week trial, a UK pension plan won a rare victory over an American pharmaceutical company (Puma). The case went to jury trial in California, where the jury found that Puma, together with its CEO and board chairman, were liable for securities fraud.