Economic Sanctions Lawyers

Sanctions for violating international trade and conduct rules have become the tool of choice for state governments and international organisations to deal with questionable conduct by other actors on the international stage. There are several different bodies of rules, each of which have been designed to apply across jurisdictions and to deter different kinds of activity. These rules can be difficult to understand, and violation can have significant financial and reputational consequences for states and businesses, limiting opportunities for growth and development.

At Bright Line Law, we have a specialist practice of advising and defending clients accused of having breached economic rules. Our lead counsel, Jonathan Fisher QC is a leading barrister in the field, and has significant experience of assisting both state governments and corporate entities navigate the complex body of international economic rules and defend their interests when accused of breaching these rules.

What are Economic Sanctions?

The rules on economic sanctions are designed to allow for the withdrawal of trade and financial relations on foreign or security policy reasons. Depending on the conduct that is deemed worthy of sanction, the punishment can be adjusted accordingly. Some economic sanctions can be wide ranging and can prevent any party from engaging with a country on a commercial level; or a sanction can be tailored to prevent specific businesses or organisations from participating in commercial transactions. There are four distinct sanction regimes in existence:

1. The United Nations (UN) Sanction Regime

The UN Sanction Regime is administered by the United Nations Security Council, and is designed as a tool to respond to threats to the world as a whole. There are a variety of sanctions available to the Security Council to use in the face of a global threat, including (i) asset freezes; (ii) arms embargoes; and (iii) travel bans. They can also extend to limitations being placed on property being transferred from one country to another that happens to be the subject of economic sanction. These sanctions, when adopted are binding on all members of the UN and will have a global reach as a result.

2. The European Union (EU) Sanction Regime

The EU Sanctions Regime is more localised than that of the UN, but still enforces sanctions imposed on parties by the UN. However, the EU is capable of imposing its own ‘autonomous’ sanctions or reinforce UN sanctions by adding to those imposed by the Security Council. The EU can, like the UN, apply sanctions on organisations, states and individuals including those used by the UN.

The EU Sanctions Regime applies within the EU, to EU nationals wherever they are located, and to businesses incorporated in an EU state that have premises in non-EU states. Parties looking to navigate the EU Sanctions Regime must seek specialist advice to avoid infringing not only EU rules, but also those being reinforced that stem from the UN.

3. The UK Sanction Regime

The UK enforces sanctions put in place at the UN and EU level. It also has its own standalone terrorist sanctions regime, as established by the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act etc 2010. Measures that are most frequently applied include asset freezes, export controls and travel bans on named individuals.

HM Treasury maintains a consolidated list of sanctions targets in the UK as well as lists specific to country and business interests.

4. The United States (US) Sanction Regime

The US is known to use more economic and financial sanctions than either the EU or the UN. Most of the sanctions are imposed in response to an “unusual and extraordinary” foreign threat, and are administered by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. The variety of sanctions available include asset freezes and trade embargoes, but also prevent US citizens and businesses from transacting with parties that are subject to sanction in any way.

The job of navigating the rules on international trade and economic sanctions requires specialist advice. Just because a sanctions regime is in existence does not mean an end to a particular project. In terms of UK sanctions, the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) will consider the issuing of licenses that enable companies and individuals to continue on with work. It is essential that issues concerning sanctions and consequential licences are carefully considered. If a business or state violates the sanctions framework, they could be censured from the commercial environment for a prolonged period of time, threatening their continued stability and viability.

Seek Specialist Advice on Economic Sanction Regimes

The sanctions regimes in operation today are among some of the most sophisticated ever created. While they are designed to combat questionable behaviour that threatens the stability of the local or international populous, it can be incredibly difficult to understand how they will affect government dealings, business activity and individual mobility. Individuals seeking to engage with parties, or in states, that are subject to sanctions should seek clear legal guidance on whether restrictions are in place and how to navigate the system.

Furthermore, you may be facing investigation and sanction for violating sanctions placed on another country, business or individual. If this is the case, you must instruct an experienced legal advisor with an understanding of the complex rules and regulations and insight on how best to navigate regulatory procedure to construct a defence to such claims. Evidence of a breach of economic sanctions could result in a significant financial penalty for businesses, threatening their continued viability. Individuals too are also vulnerable to punishment and run the risk, in severe instances, of imprisonment if found to have breached sanctions.

Bright Line Law and Economic Sanctions Advice

Businesses, governments and individuals that are likely to come into contact with the economic sanctions regime need to consult experienced legal advisors. The rules on economic sanctions are incredibly complex and difficult to understand in real terms. If you want to work with a law firm that works with clients to achieve their goals, and will act as a partner in that process, contact Bright Line Law today.

Contact Bright Line Law’s Specialist Economic Sanctions Lawyers in London

At Bright Line Law, we have developed a niche practice of advising and defending corporate, governmental and individual clients that encounter the international trade and sanction rules. Bright Line Law is highly regarded as a specialist provider, winning the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers of 2017 award, as well as being Top Ranked within the UK Bar Chambers for 2018 and 2019. Contact a member of our team, call us on + 44 (0)203 709 9470, or fill in our online enquiry form.

Jonathan Fisher QC
Lead Counsel

Telephone + 020 3872 2852

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