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12th February 2019

Uncertain times

Continuing uncertainty has been identified by South West business people as the biggest risk arising from Brexit, according to a survey carried out by South West business publication Insider and Thrings. But could businesses be doing more to prepare for all eventualities?

With Brexit politics continuing to ricochet following January’s “meaningful vote”, the only certainty in recent months has been that businesses will have little, if any, certainty about the roadmap ahead of Brexit Day.

Despite widespread concern around the uncertain climate and the shape of Brexit, more than 48 percent of respondents said they had not made any preparations other than keeping up to date with Brexit developments. Only 25 percent said they had read the government’s no-deal Brexit guidance relevant to their business, while only 27.2 percent said they had considered the Brexit risk in relation to business contracts.

Kate Westbrook, commercial contracts partner at Thrings, told Insider: “While politicians have negotiated, postured and positioned themselves, businesses should have been assessing, planning and preparing – whether there’s a deal or not.

“Businesses would do well to review the potential impact of any contract which might still be in existence after March 29. In particular, we’ve helped businesses to assess the ability of contracts involving EU players to withstand a post-Brexit landscape. Things like responsibility for delays, price variation mechanisms, payment of tariffs and handling customs clearance can be looked at.”

According to the survey, only 27 percent of businesses had made contingency plans in case of a no-deal Brexit. While the vast majority (81 percent) didn’t welcome a no-deal scenario, Westbrook – at the time of writing in mid-January – believed “businesses should continue to hope for the best but prepare for the worst”.

You can read the full article as featured in the February 2019 edition of Insider here.

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