Licences and exemptions in financial sanctions
Produced in partnership with Roger Matthews of Dentons and John Binns of BCL Solicitors LLP

The following Corporate Crime practice note produced in partnership with Roger Matthews of Dentons and John Binns of BCL Solicitors LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Licences and exemptions in financial sanctions
  • Licences to disapply financial sanctions prohibitions
  • Which prohibitions may be exempted by an OFSI licence?
  • How is a licence from OFSI obtained?
  • What is covered by a licence from OFSI
  • Offences in relation to applications for licences

Licences and exemptions in financial sanctions

The UK’s domestic sanctions framework is governed by the Sanctions and Anti-money Laundering Act 2018 (SAMLA 2018) and regulations made under it. For further information, see Practice Notes: The UK sanctions framework under SAMLA 2018 and International sanctions—an introduction.

Licences to disapply financial sanctions prohibitions

The Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), which is part of HM Treasury, can provide a licence (written authorisation) to disapply the financial sanctions prohibitions in relation to an activity which would otherwise be prohibited by financial sanctions.

Any person or body who wishes to do an activity that is otherwise restricted by UK financial sanctions (including UN financial sanctions applicable in the UK) can apply for a licence.

The UK has occasionally issued general licences in relation to other sanctions measures but only very infrequently. Under the SAMLA 2018 framework, general licences look set to become a more common feature of UK sanctions.

There is no charge for a licence and lawyers often assist with applications. Individual licences are not normally published.

A licence granted by OFSI is only an authorisation for financial activity within the UK. Where the proposed activity is going to take place across jurisdictions, separate licences from each competent sanctions authority in each jurisdiction (including EU member states) should be sought. Similarly, a licence may be required from a Crown Dependency or Overseas Territory as

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