In summer 2016 the UK voted on Brexit. However, the terms of the withdrawal have still not been clarified. Uncertainty is growing. Bielefeld companies have been interviewed about the impacts that Brexit will have on companies in the region. Dietmar Engel, a partner at HLB Stückmann, asked the questions.
It has been clear for three years that Brexit is coming. What has changed in your working environment in this period? Are you sensing some uncertainty amongst your clients?
As Brexit has long been a relevant issue for all of us, the position as regards our support to customers who have a connection to this issue and are in commercial relationships has changed. With the start of the Brexit discussions last year we have been making our clients aware of the potential scenarios and problems associated with tax law and commercial law and we have already started to pre-empt and “counter” these.
Nevertheless, like the rest of the world we are still in limbo as regards this issue. Given that the widely announced withdrawal at the end of March did not to come to pass and that the problem continues to be prolonged, Brexit is developing into an increasingly impenetrable situation that is therefore difficult to assess.
What consequences would a “hard” Brexit have for your company and for the international HLB Network?
As already mentioned the possible changes cannot currently be stated with any certainty. We as HLB Stückmann are not directly affected, however we are of course experiencing the alluded to uncertainty with our clients which is already triggering an increase in consultancy requirements. Internationally it will remain fascinating as the head office of our international network is located in London and here there may indeed be potential changes due to the new “third country role”, at least for EU member companies of the network in relation to the international office.
Can you already prepare, under certain circumstances, for any of these changes (tax law, company law, customs, etc.)? Or is that not even possible or sensible until the terms of withdrawal have been clarified?
For us as consultants it is essential that we follow the Brexit issue closely so we can respond quickly when genuine legal changes are announced. However, through the repeated postponement there is more and more uncertainty as to which “deal” will actually finally emerge. Whilst I personally hope that it will not happen, I am also keeping “no deal” in the back of my mind. We are focusing on prevention, therefore if we can counteract things in advance by making some adjustments here and there then of course we should do this. We are also actively advising our clients to do likewise.