One of the area’s leading law firms is urging business owners who deal with European companies to look at their contracts long before Britain exits the EU, and make contractual changes if necessary to minimise the impact.
The commercial team at GHP Legal says leaving contractual changes until nearer or after the event could see businesses being challenged over their intentions and new contracts should contain necessary changes with immediate effect.
GHP Legal, which has offices in Wrexham, Llangollen, Chirk and Oswestry, says companies can expect changes to both trading and employment legislation with the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and as a result it may be more difficult to fulfil current contractual obligations.
Iain Hall, a senior solicitor with the firm, said:
“Now is the time for businesses with European trade connections to assess the impact of the referendum decision and consider whether they need to renegotiate their contracts to protect their interests.
“A common standard provision in many contracts with warranties and indemnities is that a party will not be liable if the liability occurs, or is increased, as a result of a change in legislation or withdrawal of any agreements or concessions made by the government – something which may well happen following Britain’s exit from the EU.
“So for businesses that are not sufficiently protected it may be advisable to include a mechanism in the contract that can resolve issues arising from a legislative change which has a material impact on the operation of the contract.
“In rare circumstances it may be possible to terminate a contract, but only if it can be proven that it is physically or commercially impossible to fulfil it due to circumstances rendering obligations entered into when the contract was drawn up having become radically different.
“UK businesses susceptible to suffering from the impact of the EU exit should make necessary changes now otherwise they could be challenged as to their intentions. It’s rather like people giving away all their money to family members and then trying to claim for care costs; the authorities, or in the case of a contractual dispute the courts, will argue that the benefits of the changes are deliberately one-sided and challenge the intentions and therefore the legality of such an act.
“We would consequently advise those businesses with concerns to review their contractual obligations now and get legal advice about making changes.”