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Staying onside: tackling the legal impact of the first 100 days of Brexit from a sporting perspective

7073Simon Leaf, Managing Associate, Dispute Resolution

Editor's Note

There is no doubt that the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) entered into by the UK and EU at the end of last year, which governs various aspects of trade between the two, has already had a real impact on the sports industry. We are now 100 days in, and the Sports Group at Mishcon de Reya has used this landmark as an opportunity to look at some of the key issues that have arisen so far, as well as further points that those working in the sports industry should be mindful of. We have focused our attention on the following areas: Immigration, Intellectual Property, Employment, Trade in Goods and Services, Commercial Contracts, Corporate and Data Protection.

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The UK's Skilled Worker (work permit) visa regime changed following Brexit, with the changes for elite sportspeople introduced in December 2020. These changes are not substantive and instead mostly reflect a revision and simplification of the wording and organisation of the visa rules.

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Intellectual Property

Many individuals and organisations working in or in connection with sport took advantage of the EU-wide protection regimes available for protecting their valuable brands via a trade mark or a design. Now, they need to obtain protection separately in the EU and in the UK.

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Brexit is not expected to have any significant implications for UK employment law. The UK Government has committed to avoiding a "race to the bottom" with regard to employment rights, and from the first 100 days of the post-Brexit period there is no indication that any changes are imminent (the UK Government recently u-turned on its review of employment rights).

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Trade in goods and services

Significant volumes of sporting goods, apparel and other merchandise are shipped every day between the UK and the EU. We have already seen that businesses involved in exporting or importing sporting goods have faced significant challenges in terms of delays, paperwork and cost.

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Commercial Contracts

Whilst many sports organisations or individuals may have reviewed or "future-proofed" their existing contractual arrangements to mitigate Brexit-related risks, there are a number of issues they should still continue to bear in mind when negotiating commercial contracts, alongside IP, Trade in Goods and Services and Data Protection.

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Corporate Matters

The main areas that sports businesses should be aware of as a result of Brexit are potential changes to the organisational structure of their businesses and the associated regulatory obligations.

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Data Protection

Data is becoming an increasingly important asset to those operating in the sports industry. For now, the key point for sports-related organisations to note over the past 100 days has been that the EU GDPR no longer directly applies in the UK, but the UK has introduced its own (largely similar) "UK GDPR". Most businesses in the UK will be subject to the UK GDPR, and may also be subject to the EU GDPR.

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