Government considers sanctions laws post-Brexit

The Government has published a White Paper looking at what legislative changes the UK will need to make to preserve and continue the sanctions regime after Brexit. Currently, the UK implements most sanctions-related powers through the European Communities Act, and most sanctions apply directly to UK persons through EU Regulations. The paper explains that the Great Repeal Bill cannot alone achieve what is necessary, as the UK needs the power not only to maintain sanctions that are in place on Brexit, but update them urgently and appropriately as necessary. Neither are the existing laws that allow the UK to impose sanctions autonomously (mainly the United Nations Act and the Terrorist Asset Freezing etc Act) wide enough to provide the necessary powers. Equally, in relation to trade sanctions, the Export Control Act and related regime cannot impose restrictions as wide as has recently been done by the EU.  The paper says the UK will need primary legislation setting out a framework for imposing sanctions regimes, with the detail contained in secondary legislation. It intends that any new laws will have the same territorial application as current laws. The paper seeks views on the proposals generally, and asks for comment on particular areas such as the criteria for designation, the licensing regime (which it also intends to carry forward), the process and whether the laws should cater for anything extra. It notes the Policing and Crime Act has already changed the enforcement framework for sanctions breaches. The paper contains a number of other proposals, in relation to both financial and trade sanctions, including a “no-claims” clause that will provide that where funds or resources are frozen or not made available in accordance with sanctions legislation, there will be no liability on the part of the relevant person unless they have been negligent. The Government asks for comments on the paper by 23 June.