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Sanctions in export controls: Are you ready for Brexit?
8 January 2021

As from 31 December 2020 British sanctions will apply through UK Law. The UK has implemented several sanctions regimes under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the British Sanctions Act). This act provides the legal basis for the UK to impose and update sanctions after Brexit.

This Sanctions Act has enabled the UK to transition existing sanction regimes of the European Union (EU) into UK law. These apply in the whole of the UK, including in Northern Ireland. In addition, the UK may impose autonomous sanctions, as already imposed against 49 individuals because of human rights abuses through the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020.

While pursuing independent sanctions policies imposed by their respective foreign policies, the UK and EU announced to exchange information and the possibility of adopting sanctions that are mutually reinforcing. However, the UK sanctions may differ and set additional and/or alternative requirements. Individuals and legal entities should check new UK legislation and ensure to comply.

UK sanctions measures can apply to action taken by anyone in the UK (including its territorial waters) and to action taken by a UK national outside of the UK. Sanctions can also apply to legal entities incorporated in the UK.


More specifically, as from 1 January 2021 the export of dual use-items to and from the UK will require a UK license. This implies that current licenses will no longer be valid after the transition period. The UK Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) is responsible for the licensing and control.

Please also see the articles on the impact of Brexit in other practice areas. For a more detailed analysis of the impact of Brexit on your business, please do not hesitate to contact any of our experts.