Governance body advises Irish firms to prepare for continuing market uncertainty in the face of Brexit

Dublin, 2 March 2017 – Market uncertainty about Brexit will continue for the foreseeable future and Irish firms need to mitigate the risks as best as possible a packed audience of governance, risk and compliance professionals was told this morning at an event looking at the next steps arising from the UK’s vote to leave the EU last June. Organised by the Irish Region of ICSA: The Governance Institute and hosted by William Fry, the ‘Brexit – What Next?’ event highlighted the need for businesses to remain focused as the future of Ireland’s relationship with the UK will not be settled within the two-year timeframe suggested by Article 50.

Cormac Little, Partner and Head of Competition & Regulation at William Fry said "Article 50 suggested that the UK's withdrawal agreement will be finalised in two years. However, this ignores the fact that the approval of the EU's Council of Ministers and European Parliament, on the one side, and Westminster, on the other, is required. In reality therefore, both the EU and UK negotiating teams will be very pressed for time once the PM fires the starting pistol. The future of Ireland’s relationship with the UK will not be fully determined within this timeframe."

Brendan Donovan Head of Commercial & Business Treasury AIB, said that market uncertainty is likely to continue for some time. The Irish Economy continues to be highly vulnerable and a “hard Brexit” is now likely in due course unless a significant change in the UK political backdrop occurs. In a scenario where trade with the UK equates to 35% of Irish GDP and the UK takes over 40% of Irish indigenous firm exports, Irish firms should identify the risks facing them and mitigate their risks as best as possible by formulating a plan of action, keeping themselves informed and utilising their relationships with their banking and specialist advisors.

Finally, Eoin Caulfield, a Partner in William Fry's Insurance & Reinsurance Department stated that "Brexit brings with it uncertainties for company secretaries, such as UK directors no longer being suitable for EEA director requirements (Section 137 of the Companies Act 2014). There is a loss of restructuring approaches like cross-border mergers and an unclear regulatory regime. While concepts such as “equivalence” for a non-EEA UK group may help, it is not a full solution. Further work is required here."

- Ends -

For further information, please contact

Ruairi Cosgrove, Chair of ICSA Ireland 
+353 (0)1 792 6070


Maria Brookes, Media Relations Manager  
+44 (0)20 761207072

Notes to Editors:

  1. Photo Left to Right:
    Cormac Little, Partner, William Fry
    Eoin Caulfield, Partner, William Fry
    Ruairi Cosgrove PWC, Irish Region President
    Brendan Donovan, Head of Commercial & Business Treasury, AIB
    Deirdre Mooney, Head of Company Secretarial, William

  2. ICSA: The Governance Institute is the professional body for governance. We have members in all sectors and are required by our Royal Charter to lead ‘effective governance and efficient administration of commerce, industry and public affairs’. With over 125 years’ experience, we work with regulators and policy makers to champion high standards of governance and provide qualifications, training and guidance.

  3. ICSA Ireland is the representative body of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) in the Republic of Ireland. The Irish region is governed by its own Council and sub-committees representing all areas of business in which the members work. ICSA Ireland has approximately 600 members and 200 students with many of its members working in the corporate and professional services sectors.
    Through its Council and sub-committees it provides a range of services to members and students, including the organisation of educational and social events. Council also makes representations and submissions to Government Departments and Governance Forums on behalf of the ICSA members.
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