On 14 July 2015, Iran and the E3+ 3 (UK, France, Germany, USA, Russia and China) agreed the joint comprehensive plan of action (the JCPOA) to lift the sanctions on Iran.
Following the formal adoption of the JCPOA on 18 October 2015, the next key date is likely to take place three to six months from now on “Implementation Day”, once Iran is verified to have complied with the nuclear-related measures set out in the JCPOA.
Implementation of the JCPOA will significantly open up the Iranian market through the removal of substantial sanctions, including those relating to the provision of financial support for trade in Iran and the transfer of funds from EU persons to Iranian entities.
We are already fielding an increasing number of queries in anticipation of the lifting of Iranian sanctions and the opening up of the market place. These have been in relation to investment or other business opportunities in Iran and the movement of wealth out of Iran, which has an estimated economy of $400bn that will become available for deployment outside of the country. We expect this to be mainly via Dubai and Turkey.
As with many emerging markets, investment in Iran has the potential to achieve high returns, but will likely be accompanied by significant risk. This is true not only in terms of financial risk, but also in terms of the currently limited experience in the Iranian marketplace. There is much work to be done, not only in outsiders gaining experience of Iranian business and culture, but also to establish relationships with reputable and reliable Iranian service providers and agents.
Importantly, English lawyers have a role to play beyond leading international development in the region. As is so often the case, English law may well become the choice for commercial agreements.
Even where agreements are not governed by English law, and arrangements have no UK connection, English lawyers have long been approached to manage international projects based on their reputation and international expertise and experience.
Furthermore, as opportunities increase for wealth to be moved outside of Iran, there are also immigration opportunities in the UK, particularly via the investor visa route.