Amendments to the UK and Overseas Territories Sanctions Regime Post Brexit

Amendments to the UK and Overseas Territories Sanctions Regime

As of the 31st December, 2020 at 11:00 pm GMT, the United Kingdom (“the UK”) concluded its transition period and completed the process of exiting the European Union (“the EU”) (“Brexit”). As a consequence, the UK will no longer implement sanctions imposed via EU Directives or EU sanctions regulations. Instead, all sanctions regimes will now be implemented through UK regulations.


UK Regulations and Overseas Territories Orders in Council

The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (“the Sanctions Act”) provides the legal framework for the UK to impose, update and lift sanctions autonomously. Under the Sanctions Act, United Nations (“UN”) designations and UN Security Council, obligations are automatically applicable and are implemented through the relevant UK sanctions regulations.

As a British Overseas Territory, the Virgin Islands is reliant upon the UK’s framework for the implementation of sanctions. The following provisions under the Sanctions Act have been extended to the Overseas Territories (“OT”) through the new Overseas Territories Orders in Council (“Sanctions Orders”):

  • section 44 (protection for acts done for purposes of compliance);
  • section 52(3) (Crown application);
  • section 53 (saving for prerogative powers)

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (“the FCDO”) determines international sanctions policy in the UK and has published regulations under the Sanctions Act for over 30 sanctions regimes which have come into force since the end of the transition period.

The UK Regulations that have been extended to the Virgin Islands by virtue of Orders in Council are available on the Agency’s website under the tab labelled “Applicable UK Regulations extended to the VI”.

UK Regulations are intended to deliver substantially the same policy effects as the sanctions regimes under the EU. However, in many cases, the process of recreating the regimes in UK law has necessitated clearer and more specific drafting, setting out the criteria and purposes associated with each regime. The new legislation should be reviewed to ensure that your activities are still compliant.

Over thirty Sanctions Orders have also been published for the OTs and are available on the Agency’s website under the tab labelled “British Overseas Territories Sanctions Orders in Force”.

Each OT Sanctions Order sets out the corresponding and applicable UK Regulation which is extended to the Virgin Islands as an OT.

Some former EU regimes have been merged, separated, or renamed by the FCDO to help reflect their purpose and policy intention. For example, persons designated under the Ukraine (Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity) and those businesses subject to restrictive measures under the current EU Regulations are now included in the new Russia sanctions regime. In relation to OTs, “The Ukraine (Sanctions) (Overseas Territories) Orders, 2014 (as amended) have merged into The Russia (Sanctions) (Overseas Territories) Order 2020.

Any person that fails or refuses to provide information to the Agency that it considers relevant to the performance of its functions commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both.

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