COMMENT: Beyond the scenes

As this issue of the magazine goes to press, the Brexit debate has become a veritable battle in Westminster: from name-calling and ministerial resignations, to calls for more resignations and even the emergence of a new political party.

As the reality show that is British politics continues to play out, outside of the corridors of power more arguments are being had about what should happen next, with the Association of British Insurers arguing that a no-deal outcome would be an “unforgivable act of economic and social self-harm”. The CBI, meanwhile, argues that the country is facing a national emergency as they called on Prime Minister Theresa May to change her approach to Brexit. Then, the People’s Vote march reconvened in Central London to voice its varying array of concerns. The Prime Minister certainly got one thing right when she sensed that the public had had enough.

Meanwhile, businesses have been doing their best to prepare for a range of outcomes, treating the risk as it would any other enterprise risk – albeit an admittedly large one. Varying reports of readiness have been heard.

Within the financial sector, and following the publication by the Financial Conduct Authority of “near-final” rules and guidance that will apply in the event the UK leaves the EU without an implementation period, the mood was even slightly upbeat.

The watchdog published information for regulated firms in different sectors to consider if or how they will be affected by Brexit and what action they may need to take, adding that, in most cases, it plans to allow firms a period of 15 months to adapt to the changes.

Welcoming the guidance, global head of financial services at Norton Rose Fulbright, Jonathan Herbst said major institutions have planned for “all Brexit scenarios for over two years but this grace period will offer relief and a degree of regulatory predictability”.

And, in spite of the recent vote in parliament against no deal, the ABI warned drivers not to leave anything to chance; to continue to plan for a no-deal Brexit and make arrangements to have a Green Card in time for when they travel.

Director of regulation at the ABI, Hugh Savill said despite the parliamentary votes, nothing has changed, and will not do so unless the EU agrees: “As things currently stand, all drivers planning to take their vehicle to the EU after 29 March should, if they have not already done so, contact their motor insurer to arrange for a Green Card in good time...”

In another Brexit-related warning, commercial insurance advisory, Mactavish urged companies to ensure their Brexit plans are comprehensive and clearly documented as they may be needed “to defend themselves against lawsuits brought by disgruntled investors, as well as to ensure their insurance remains valid”. It reiterated its earlier call for firms to consider more carefully the risk that individual directors could be personally exposed to legal action because of traditional limitations applied to D&O. More on that particular story in our D&O feature on page 18.

And, as the drama in Westminster continues to unfold, Sally Roff and Tanya Forret provide CIR readers with a timely reminder of the potential knock-on effects of contingency plans on health and safety compliance at their companies.

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