The extent to which the UK continues to align itself with the EU on commercial/trading law is likely to depend on the outcome of discussions over its future trading relationship with the EU. However, in this Brexit by Topic we have highlighted some of the key considerations.
Brexit without EEA membership (or similar arrangements requiring adherence to EU single market legislation) will create the potential for the UK to pursue a more deregulatory agenda in a wide range of areas often considered burdensome for business, such as consumer protection, safety and standards, product liability and environmental law. However, in our view, the scope for such deregulation is likely to be more limited than some have suggested and will take some time to deliver.
Two Sets of Rules
Such deregulatory measures will primarily benefit businesses focussed on the UK domestic market or on exporting to non-rEU countries; businesses trading with the rEU, however, will have to comply with two potentially divergent sets of rules (which could increase the regulatory burden on those businesses).
Where internationally-agreed standards are relevant (as is often the case in relation to product regulation, for example), the UK government may decide that it is preferable to retain those standards. In any case, contractual obligations may mean that businesses cannot avoid compliance with such standards.
Policy Issues/Political Opposition
Where deregulation would imply a lowering of standards/levels of protection, this may ultimately be considered undesirable in policy terms and is also likely to meet political opposition from e.g. consumer groups and others.
Significant reform to trading regulation will be challenging to deliver in terms of time and government resources, as detailed consultation will be required on numerous, highly complex areas of law, which cannot simply be abolished "wholesale" (such as EU-derived laws regulating chemicals, water, waste, air quality and other environmental issues).
More information is available in Brexit: Operational Risk & Environment.