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In the aftermath of the referendum vote, Chris Laughton, restructuring and insolvency partner at Mercer & Hole, and Helen Kavanagh of Squire Patton Boggs, explain the potential impact for restructuring and insolvency practitioners.
Chris Laughton (CL): It will take at least two years for the UK to exit the EU. The article 50 clock hasn’t started ticking yet and, practically, we will need as much time as politics allows to arrange an orderly exit. Only 37% of the UK electorate voted to leave, while 35% voted to remain and 28% did not vote in the referendum. The government has a great deal to do now, acting properly in accordance with the referendum’s non-legally binding mandate, and much of what has to be done will be extremely difficult to achieve.
Helen Kavanagh (HK): Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union sets out the procedure to be followed if a Member State decides to leave the EU. It was signed by the EU Member States on 13 December 2007, and entered into force on 1 December 2009. That procedure has never been implemented before so we are in uncharted territory. In particular, article 50 does not set out any procedural requirements as to the format that the notice should take.
It does say that the decision must be made in accordance with a Member State’s own constitutional requirements and then the decision communicated to the European Council. It is silent on the method and timing of such communication. Already there has been debate in Brussels and Germany as to whether the referendum itself could be automatic notice, or if David Cameron’s attendance at the EU Summit (on Tuesday 28 June) when he informs the other Prime Ministers of the outcome of the referendum would trigger the article 50 notice period to begin running.
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