On 2 April 2019 the Law Societies’ Joint Brussels Office, in collaboration with STEP Benelux, held a conference at Loyens and Loeff’s Brussels Office.  With Brexit regularly making headlines over the past few months, the conference aimed to discuss the changes Brexit will bring for international private clients.

Louise Benjamin from STEP gave the opening remarks. 

Dr Helena Raulus, Head of the UK Law Societies’ Joint Brussels Office, gave an overview of the current situation, focusing on the EU’s position on Brexit and the interplay between member states.  She said that a no deal scenario would create problems for individuals and families which would equally affect UK and EU citizens. She noted that both the UK and EU negotiating teams recognised this. 

Fergus Eckersley  and Ivan Smyth from the UK Permanent Representation to the EU gave an update on the status of the Brexit negotiations. 

The first panel chaired by Richard Frimston discussed the possible consequences of Brexit on cross-border cases involving family and property law.  The panellists included Catherine Lambert, Alberto Perez and Anneke Vrenegoor.

Panel 1 discussed the EU regulations that currently apply to cross-border family law and the possible consequences on family law of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. They also discussed the merits of some instruments that could replace the current framework in a no deal scenario, including the Hague Conventions.

The second panel was chaired by Gary Ashford and the speakers included Saskia Lust, Andrea Uleri and Illia Neizvestny. The discussion focused on cross-border taxation after Brexit.  

The panellists explained how taxation works in their own jurisdictions, namely the UK, Belgium, Portugal, Italy and Luxembourg. They discussed in detail the different types of taxes, the rates levied on individuals according to categories in which they are placed under the tax system and how UK citizens would be treated for taxation purposes in a no-deal scenario.

Saskia Lust explained that in Belgium, the Brexit no deal legislation covers inheritance tax so in Belgium, the UK would still be presumed to have remained an EU member until the end of 2020 as far as inheritance tax is concerned, even in the case of a no deal Brexit.

As for Portugal, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK citizens will be treated as any other non-EU citizens for tax purposes.

Overall, the panels concluded that with the UK leaving the EU, it is of paramount importance that a comprehensive agreement in this area of law be concluded.

If you are interested in the presentations, please contact our office brussels@lawsociety.org.uk or STEP Benelux step@step.org