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Doing Business in the U.K.

Possessing the fifth largest economy in the world, the U.K. is one of the top investment destinations for the U.S. Along with its status as an economic powerhouse, the U.K. has a significant array of favorable attributes for new enterprises. The country's business environment is a model of stability and simplicity. A highly competitive and business-friendly tax climate helps make the U.K. one of the most appealing corporate homes in Europe.

The U.K. had traditionally been known for its strong financial hub and for being an attractive entry point to the more than 500-million, consumer-strong European market. But the referendum vote in June to leave the European Union has created uncertainty among firms and added complexity to international deals. It remains to be seen what the full impact of Brexit will be.

Reasons for Doing Business in the U.K.

The World Bank ranks the U.K. seventh out of 189 countries for overall ease of doing business, ranking highest among G8 nations including the United States, Germany, and Japan. Comparatively low corporate tax rates of 20% and efforts to cut red tape have made it easier to do business. The government has pledged to reduce the tax rate even further to 17% by 2020. Start-up costs are far lower compared to the U.S. and Germany.

The U.K. has one of the world’s oldest and most established judicial systems—a key consideration for overseas businesses and investors—including the protection of creditor and shareholder rights. The World Bank ranks the U.K. sixth in the world in shareholder protection. The English legal system serves as a basis and model for many other international jurisdictions.

The U.K. also has much to offer in the form of human capital, with an English-speaking, highly-skilled workforce. That distinction is likely to continue, as the U.K. is home to several of the world's leading universities.

This range of favorable factors is one of the reasons the U.K. has drawn significant foreign investment, particularly in the areas of information technology, the life sciences, and aerospace and automotive engineering.

Finally, the U.K. offers one of the world's highest standards of living and a variety of cultural institutions and amenities. This makes the country very attractive to top business talent, and it provides a significant edge for companies bidding for skilled executives. Although details have yet to be revealed, Chancellor Philip Hammond has stated that highly skilled workers, including those working in business and finance, would be exempt from migration controls post-Brexit.

Main Challenges

The change in Single Market rights for the U.K. due to Brexit will lead to additional legal compliance risks, including litigation and service of process. The increased difficulty in serving U.K. proceedings on EU defendants and enforcing judgments will lead to increased time and expenses of cross-border litigation.

Contractual agreements with the U.K. prior to Brexit may need to be restructured. (The U.K. is still currently a part of the E.U. Prime Minister Theresa May has stated she will not trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the process that governs exit from the E.U., until 2017.) The uncertainty of contractual provision can also lead to increased litigation.

The U.K. is the easiest country in the world in which to secure credit. However, determining which type of credit best suits your business is an often challenging and time-consuming task.

Construction and infrastructure also offer their own set of challenges for new businesses. Securing planning approval from authorities and getting things such as water and sewer hookups can be costly and time-consuming.

Conclusion

The challenges of operating in a new country are often daunting—regulations are constantly evolving and no business landscape remains static. Without a solid grasp of the issues at hand, businesses are exposed to tax penalties and even the prospect of civil or criminal litigation.

If you are considering entering the U.K. market, it is critical to have an experienced partner with a global footprint. CT has a worldwide network of offices and partners who will make sure your local needs are met, accurately and on time.

CT can help you get set up, provide a single point of contact and provide you with customized solutions for all your needs. We know that one-size does not fit all. From incorporation to dissolution, major mergers and acquisitions, registered agent services and all the day-to-day compliance needs in between, we’ll make sure you have the right support tailored for your global needs.

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