Preparing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. What to do if you use a UK-based website to sell into the EU.

by Robert Marcus, Partner

July 2019

While it seems we might still be a long way to how, when or if Britain leaves the European Union, there are a number of areas where businesses need to be prepared in the event that there’s a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

There are particular challenges for those who sell into the EU over the web.  This briefing flags up some of those and what can be done now to prepare.

  • Be aware of probable changes to the UK e-commerce regime following Brexit, in particular, the loss of the ‘country of origin principle’.
  • All information society service (ISS) providers, such as an online retailer or ISP, established in the UK, currently benefit from the E-Commerce Directive’s reciprocal arrangement enabling EEA-based ISS providers to sell goods and services across the EU, only needing to comply with the rules of their own country where those rules fall within the ‘co-ordinated field’.
  • The co-ordinated field covers areas such as online advertising and contracting but not issues like safety standards and other laws relating to goods. These ISS providers are also exempt from any prior authorisation schemes or similar requirements, and only need to follow the basic information requirements set out in the Directive.
  • Once the UK leaves the EU, organisations established in the UK will need to comply with rules that govern online activities in each EEA state in which they operate. The EU confirmed, in its e-commerce Brexit notice to stakeholders that these rules will no longer apply to UK organisations following Brexit.
  • While UK ISS providers will lose the benefit of the country of origin principle from exit day, ISS providers based in other EEA countries who sell into the UK will not. They will continue to benefit from the country of origin principle when operating in the UK until the UK Government removes the right from UK legislation implementing the E-Commerce Directive, there is to be a transitional period for ISS’s providing financial services.
  • New EU rules prevent unjustified geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on a customer’s nationality or place of residence will apply in UK law though their extra territorial reach.
  • If there is no deal, you will no longer qualify to register or renew .eu domain names and your privacy policies and data processes will need refreshing once the UK is no longer part of the EU’s data protection regime.

What should you do now?

  • look at your online activities to check which countries’ laws will be relevant.
  • update processes for monitoring and compliance with legal obligations and EEA licensing regimes in such countries.

Jurit has extensive international expertise and a network of advisers in most major jurisdictions.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries e-mail Robert Marcus robert.marcus@jurit.com, call Robert on 020 7060 5861 or speak to your usual Jurit contact.

Please note this paper is intended to provide general information and knowledge about legal developments and topics which may be of interest to readers. It is not a comprehensive analysis of law nor does it provide specific legal advice.  Advice on the specific circumstances of a matter should be sought.

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