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Banks, Insurers Eye The Door As UK Reaches Brexit Deadlock

William Shaw LAW360.COM

Law360, London (January 16, 2019, 2:33 PM GMT) -- Britain's financial services companies have lost patience with the stalled political process and are transferring assets out of the U.K. regardless of what kind of Brexit deal, if any, the government seals with the European Union, their legal advisors said Wednesday.

Banks, insurers and other businesses with cross-border exposure have been asking for more than two years for details on how to adjust their business and trade models to fit Britain's new relationship with the EU after March 29.

But Parliament overwhelmingly rejected, by 432 votes to 202, Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal agreement with the EU on Tuesday. Now businesses are accelerating plans to avoid a legal and regulatory limbo if Britain leaves without a deal in 72 days time, lawyers say.

Meanwhile more financial services lawyers in London are also likely to register with the Irish Bar to make sure they can continue to handle European business, said Seamus Hoar, partner with legal recruiting company Major, Lindsey & Africa. Ireland will remain in Europe, providing a stepping stone into the EU market.

Lawyers "are trying to be able to provide agile advice whatever the circumstances are,” Hoar said. “It’s affecting the entirety of the legal market in London to a greater or lesser extent,” he said of Brexit.

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