With most protagonists in the Brexit debate polarised, I thought a measured assessment of the likely impact might prove helpful.
The overall effect of Brexit on the economy is hard to predict at the moment, but it is certainly worth pointing out that large economies do not suddenly lose their positions overnight. The UK will have a lot of time to adjust and take advantage of opportunities to offset reverses. The assets of London as a global city and finance hub have been built for decades and will not suddenly disappear, even before you get into the absence of an obvious rival in Europe. Pragmatic policy considerations will also have a huge impact in watering down major changes. Supposedly temporary fixes become permanent, and you constitutionally muddle through.
A good example is the response of the offshore firms in relation to Brexit. ‘The morning after the night before, there was stunned silence,’ says David Cadin, managing partner at Bedell Cristin. For offshore law firms, the long-term implications of Brexit are no clearer than for their onshore counterparts, and they are equally loath to make predictions when uncertainty continues to surround terms for the UK’s departure from the EU.
As Antonia Hardy, Cayman Islands managing partner of Walkers, puts it: ‘In terms of offshore access for financial services, no-one knows yet – like everything to do with Brexit the answer is possibly and hopefully.’ She offers a very positive take: ‘Offshore centres have always been required to apply for European access independently of the UK and so we do not foresee any negative impact from the Brexit decision.’
On balance Brexit looks bad for the British economy – that uncertainty hits investment is a demonstrable phenomenon – but my instinct is that sky will neither fall nor perpetually shine. That view – subject to very regular updating with changing facts – is the basis that law firm leaders should operate on.
To discuss your firm’s concerns regarding Brexit, and to find out how we can assist, contact James Yates: +44 845 241 2127.