Inward investment into the UK

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If your business is seeking to explore opportunities within the UK as an inward investor, a vital first step is to plan ahead so that you can hit the ground running. In doing so, it’s important to be aware of UK commercial and employment law whilst also considering potential changes and contingencies that may stem from Brexit.

Completing this process will help you identify strategies to address possible barriers to success and allow you to take full advantages of the opportunities that inward investment presents. But where should you begin?

Before setting up your business in the UK, it’s advisable to identify your target audience and establish how you intend to reach them. This will form a key part of your business plan, along with consideration of your employees, supply chains and budgeting issues.

The options for your business structure are to incorporate a private limited company as a subsidiary of an overseas parent company or to set up a new UK establishment. Your choice will have long-term implications for the life of the business and will depend on several things, including the tax consequences of each structure, the flexibility required and how risk-averse you are as a business owner. As an alternative to setting up a new business, you may decide to enter into a joint venture with an existing business or invest in a business which already operates in the UK.

Anyone who manages the business of a company registered at Companies House, whether that is a trading company or merely a social club, may be regarded as a director and with that label will come the statutory risks and responsibilities of being a director.

The General Duties of directors are owed to the company and so only the company itself will be able to enforce them. In addition duties can be owed to both creditors and employees and in certain circumstances directors can be held personally liable for their actions.

A further key aspect of business activity in the UK concerns tax and finance. Corporation tax is levied on the worldwide profits and gains of business registered in the UK, whereas non UK tax-resident companies are liable to corporation tax if they trade in the UK through a UK permanent establishment. Registration with the tax authorities and compliance with VAT and payroll tax rules is also required as appropriate.

Establishing a UK bank account for a new business is also necessary and involves a series of checks on the company and its directors and shareholders. This can prove a time-consuming exercise so preparing at the earliest available opportunity can help prevent unnecessary delay.

Identifying appropriate premises from which to conduct your business operation is another important step in the planning phase of setting up your business. We can help with commercial property issues, from the drafting of lease agreements through to completion.

In most cases, regardless of the size of your organisation, the same employment laws apply. However, we recognise that you will have your own distinct needs, objectives and ethos and will carefully consider them to find solutions that work for you.

If you intend to employ workers from outside the UK and the European Economic Area (or EEA), you must first secure a sponsor licence from the UK Home Office. Your contracts of employment should also comply with UK law concerning pay and working conditions.

Ensuring that your business arrangements are reflected in your contractual structure and understanding your exposure to risks and liabilities as a business are key drivers of success. Linked to this is using your commercial contract to protect your business’ brand and reputation.

No matter what sector your business is in, the commercial arrangements need to be fit for purpose. That is why there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to contracting and it’s important to seek legal advice at an early stage to help you identify key priorities and risks.

We can help with your commercial contracts concerning agencies, distribution, franchises, IT, manufacturing and supply, outsourcing, licencing, services, and terms and conditions

The UK has a comprehensive regulatory structure with which businesses must be compliant. These range from restrictions on foreign ownership to standards of goods. Again, we can advise you on compliance matters to ensure that your business is fully protected.

Through our established strategic alliance with CastaldiPartners, a Franco-Italian law firm with offices in Paris and Milan, we draw upon the expertise of a team of more than 60 international lawyers, some of whom are dual-qualified in both French and Italian jurisdictions.

We have Spanish, French and Italian Lawyers in house as part of our in-house  team who can advise you on UK law as well the law of France , Italy and Spain. Our combined team of more than 100 legal experts includes many multi-lingual lawyers qualified to practice in multiple jurisdictions who provide seamless pan-European legal solutions to businesses.