Brexit Implications for Records Management
Immediately following the news of Britain’s decision to the leave the EU by vote, many unanswered questions arose regarding the implications for companies operating in the UK. Nothing has changed yet, but moving forward and following the anticipated confirmation of the UK’s exit, records management issues will be one of many for companies to consider.
If your company currently has operations in the UK it is likely the records retention schedule is reliant on requirements mandated by European Union laws; the reason being, many UK record-keeping requirements are set and/or provided a floor minimum standard either directly or indirectly through EU law. A great majority of these mandates are set forth through EU Directives which require EU member states to adopt or implement the Directive standards at the national level. EU Regulations also provide mandates which are directly binding on member states without the necessity for implementing member state legislation. Finally, at the very least, EU regulatory bodies provide various guidelines and rules that companies should follow as a matter of prudence.
A broad spectrum of UK record-keeping requirements are set by the EU, including those ranging from environmental emissions and value added taxes. In addition, pharmaceutical, financial, and manufacturing industries are just a few examples of industries that are heavily influenced by EU laws. These laws and their associated record-keeping requirements will be part of the uncertain details to be determined.
In assessing the possible implications for a records retention schedule, there are various scenarios to consider in preparation. During its shift away from the EU’s legal framework, the UK may decide to continue to follow the EU laws as a practical matter, with little implications. This has recently been made clear by the UK Information Commissioner with regard to their commitment to follow the EU General Data Protection Regulation for the sake of ‘international consistency.’ Alternatively, the UK may exercise their discretion to implement less stringent or substantially different requirements. There is also the possibility that more stringent requirements will be implemented. Finally, a hybrid of these aforementioned scenarios is a possibility as well, as the UK decides how to best govern without the EU.
With much uncertainty remaining, companies in the UK will need to diligently follow any changes in laws to assess and update their records retention schedule accordingly.