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What small practices should do to prepare for Brexit

This page helps small practices prepare for Brexit. It presents an overview of instructions and guidance on audit, trade, employment, data protection, and professional qualifications

While there remains a good deal of uncertainty about Brexit, there are actions that practices should be considering now. The UK government, the European Commission, the FRC and a range of other bodies have been issuing instructions for actions they expect businesses to take.

ICAEW has been providing guidance for members at icaew.com/Brexit since the referendum and has been following developments as they happen. The range and volume of different instructions has been expanding significantly as the exit date approaches. This page provides a clear route to find the guidance you need.

Audit

There are a range of implications from Brexit that auditors should be aware of. In particular, you should consider the issues below.

Legal and regulatory implications

In addition to the practical considerations above, which are relevant for any audit, there are also some specific legal implications. The FRC has written to firms outlining actions to take in preparation for Brexit. For firms and individuals providing statutory audit services outside of their home country, there might be a need to register in those EU countries where they work if there is no deal. A major group affected are UK auditors of UK companies with listings on the Irish stock exchange, who will need to register with the Irish regulator as third-country auditors. 

ICAEW has issued draft audit regulations, reflecting changes that would apply in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. The regulations apply to those working in the regulated area of audit in the UK, Ireland and the Crown Dependencies.

There are also changes to auditor independence provisions resulting from UK legislation which will be implemented immediately at the time the UK leaves the European Union, in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The changes impact only upon audits of Public Interest Entities (PIEs) but would apply without any transitional arrangements. The principal issue needing immediate attention is that the prohibitions on the provision of certain non-audit services in paragraph 5.167R of the ethical standard will apply to all components of a group audit regardless of where in the world those components are located, where the audit of those components is undertaken by a member firm of the auditor’s network.

Accounting

UK companies preparing accounts for 2018 and 2019 will need to consider how Brexit will affect the numbers and the disclosures required. Our guide provides further information on how to prepare FRS 102 accounts for 2018/19:

There are also legal implications for some UK accounts, relating in particular to exemptions currently available to pan-EU groups. These are outlined in our guide below:

Trading with the EU

Many practices will have clients that trade between the UK and the EU-27 or the rest of the world. HMRC has issued instructions to these businesses to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. HMRC estimates that there are 240,000 UK businesses that trade only with the EU, they would all need to comply with customs formalities in the event of no deal.

Further details on what these businesses have been asked to do are set out in the customs section of our Brexit checklist

A range of government guidance has been provided by both the UK government and the European Commission for entities that trade between the UK and the EU-27. Our page on government guidance helps navigate the various publications. In particular you might find useful:

Businesses can sign up to further Brexit notifications from HMRC.

Employment

Existing employees of UK companies who are EU nationals will need to apply for settled status. It is important to plan for cut-off dates and any differential status that might apply to new arrivals to the UK. Practices themselves may have employees who will need to register and this will also be an issue for many clients.

Data protection

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it will become a third country. This means UK organisations and individuals that process or transfer the personal data of EU-27 citizens from the EU to the UK may need to take action to continue the free flow of data from the EU to the UK and guarantee the protection of EU data subjects. The action required will vary according to whether there is a deal (as set out in any withdrawal agreement) or no deal.

Professional qualifications

Recognition of professional qualifications is directly relevant for members who have or wish to move and work across borders in regulated and reserved professional activities. Only statutory audit is regulated in all EU member states and there are considerable variations in national rules on what is and what is not regulated in the accountancy sphere.

For most ICAEW members, therefore, the Brexit implications on professional recognition are not directly relevant. ICAEW members working in the EU-27 are advised to read our guide: