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That the coming UK general election is impossible to call; that it will probably result in a hung parliament; and that the inevitable uncertainty will spook businesses, are all universally acknowledged truths as we look towards election day on 7 May.
The UK is entering a period where predictions are increasingly fruitless.
So how does this affect commercial lawyers?
After all, we have had elections before (quite a few if truth be told—the next Parliament will be the 56th Parliament of the United Kingdom). We’ve coped. If anything, a lot of commercial law is now debated and decided on a European level, whether it be commercial agency arrangements or consumer protection law. What does it really matter?
Well, on a micro level it matters as the new government will need to ensure, for example, that the Consumer Rights Bill is implemented properly (provided it receives Royal Assent before Parliament is dissolved in a few weeks). If a government is not formed quickly, the proper implementation of this vital reform could be delayed. Now, I’m not suggesting that it will take 541 days to negotiate the formation of a government—as was the case in Belgium in 2010-11—but there are plenty of enacting statutory instruments under the Bill (and related guidance) that ideally needs to be sorted out before 1 October 2015, when the Bill is pencilled to come into force. Time-wise, there isn’t much room for manoeuvre there. (What’s more, there is also plenty of other work that will be in the new government’s in box: see our Commercial timelines produced earlier in the year
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