At 11pm on Friday 31 January the UK left the EU. Whilst attention is now on the negotiations around our future relationship, what changes need to be made to legal documents now?
Although the UK has left the EU, we are now in an 11 month 'implementation period', from 31 January (exit day) until 31 December 2020 (IP completion day).
During the implementation period, EU law will continue to apply in the UK, and the EU and the UK will treat the UK as if it was still a member state.
Previous legislative measures taken by the Government in anticipation of a 'no deal' Brexit, including hundreds of Brexit-related statutory instruments and arrangements to on-shore EU legislation into UK domestic law, have been delayed. Subject to the future relationship negotiations, these measures will now come into force on IP completion day (not exit day).
Reference to Member State, EU or EEA in a document
On exit day the UK left the EU. Although relevant arrangements between the EU and the UK provide that references to Member State, the EU or EEA in EU or UK legislation will be treated as including a reference to the UK, those provisions will not apply to references to those terms in private contracts.
If an agreement contains a reference to Member State, EU or EEA that reference should be updated to include the UK, for example, by referring to 'the combined area of the UK and the EEA' if the parties intend the relevant reference to continue to include the UK.
Governing law and jurisdiction clauses
The existing regulations on the law governing contractual and non-contractual obligations will apply to contracts concluded before IP completion day and in respect of events which occurred during the implementation period which give rise to damages.
Similarly the relevant instruments relating to jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments across the EU will apply to legal proceedings instituted before the end of the implementation period, and to the recognition and enforcement of judgments given in legal proceedings instituted before the end of the implementation period.
So no changes need to be made to governing law and jurisdiction clauses during the implementation period.