The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom, along with a number of other jurisdictions, have responded to the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine by adopting new, additional and/or enhanced economic sanctions, trade restrictions and other restrictive measures targeting, in different ways, Russia, Belarus, and the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, which Russia has purported to recognize as independent states.  Russia, in turn, has responded to these restrictive measures by adopting its own countermeasures and related regulations affecting, for example, certain dealings involving non-Russians in Russia.
Continue Reading Sanctions Developments Resulting From the Conflict in Ukraine

On February 10, 2022, the United Kingdom published new legislation (the “Amendment”) significantly expanding the scope of targets on which the UK government may impose sanctions relating to Russia.[1]  The Amendment, which was issued in response to the current situation in Ukraine and takes immediate effect, broadens the designation criteria of the existing Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.[2]  Whereas the existing provisions were limited to persons directly engaged in activities relating to the “destabilisation” of Ukraine,[3] the Amendment further authorizes sanctions against:

  • any “Government of Russia-affiliated entity,” defined as entities:
    • directly or indirectly owned or controlled by the Russian government;
    • in which the Russian government directly or indirectly holds a minority interest;
    • that receive or have received financing directly or indirectly from the Russian Direct Investment Fund or the National Wealth Fund; or
    • which “otherwise obtain a financial benefit or other material benefit” from the Russian government;
  • individuals or entities carrying on business of “economic significance” (which is not further defined) to the Russian government;
  • individuals or entities carrying on business in a sector of “strategic significance” to the Russian government, defined as the Russian chemicals, construction, defence, electronics, energy, extractives, financial services, information, communications and digital technology, and transport sectors; and
  • individuals or entities that directly or indirectly own or control or work as a director (whether executive or non-executive), trustee, or equivalent of any entity in the above categories.

As before, sanctions imposed under the United Kingdom’s Russia sanctions program include an asset freeze, travel ban (for individuals), prohibition on making funds or economic resources available to or for the benefit of the designated party, and prohibition on dealing with funds or economic resources of the designated party (as well as entities owned or controlled by the designated party).

Continue Reading United Kingdom Broadens Scope of Potential Russian Sanctions Targets

The Court of Appeal confirmed[1] that a borrower under a Tier 2 facility agreement was excused from making payments because of the risk of U.S. secondary sanctions.

The court made it explicitly clear that whether or not non-performance may be excused will depend on the specific words of the affected contract and the wider context.  However, whilst fact sensitive, the decision also makes clear that the English court is likely to consider U.S. secondary sanctions as “mandatory” provisions of law.  
Continue Reading UK Court of Appeal Says Risk of U.S. Secondary Sanctions is a “Mandatory Provision of Law” Excusing Non-Payment

On 6 July 2020, the UK Government announced the introduction of a “Global Human Rights” sanctions regime (the “GHR Sanctions”). The regime marks the first time the UK Government has imposed sanctions measures independently from the European Union and the first time it has exercised its ability to impose sanctions directly in response to human rights violations. However, the new measures do not necessarily indicate the UK’s future policy direction, and after Brexit the UK sanctions regime will look broadly similar to that of the EU.
Continue Reading New UK Sanctions Regime Introduced

On January 31, 2019, France, Germany and the UK (the “E3”) announced the creation of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (“INSTEX”), a special purpose vehicle intended to facilitate legitimate trade between European companies and Iran, registered in France.  This initiative is supported by the European Union. The vehicle was created in the wake of the U.S.’ withdrawal in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal (the  Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”)), in addition to the EU Blocking Regulation, and as part of the EU’s response to the re-imposition of U.S. secondary sanctions on Iran through the U.S. Executive Order 13846 (the “Executive Order”).  The Executive Order re-imposed the secondary sanctions regime against Iran that it have been suspended while it was a party to the JCPOA. 
Continue Reading France, Germany, UK Launch INSTEX to Facilitate Trade With Iran

Over the past few months a number of developments have highlighted the growing pressure in favour of reactive sanctions implementation in the EU and the UK.

New EU chemical weapons sanctions regime

On October 15, 2018, the Council of the EU adopted a new programme of restrictive measures (Council Regulation (EU) 2018/1542). Where necessary to address the use or proliferation of chemical weapons, the EU is now able to impose asset freezes and travel bans on persons and entities anywhere, regardless of their nationality and location, and forbid EU persons and entities from making funds available to them.

Continue Reading Fast-Moving Political Developments Increase the Pressure for Reactive Sanctions Implementation

In recent years, sanctions have become one of the issues of greatest concern for parties entering into international transactions. As a result, detailed contractual clauses designed to manage sanctions risks have become commonplace. The October 2018 judgment of the High Court in Mamancochet Mining v. Aegis Managing Agency[1] (the “Judgment”) has highlighted certain pitfalls in the standard wording of some sanctions clauses, and should be heeded by any party seeking to contractually protect itself from sanctions risks by, for example, making its performance under the contract conditional upon the non-occurrence of certain sanctions events, or tying a termination event to sanctions. The Judgment also casts some light on the interpretation of the EU Blocking Regulation[2] and suggests exercising contractual rights (even ones designed to ensure compliance with U.S. sanctions) does not breach the Blocking Regulation.
Continue Reading Interpreting Sanctions Clauses and the EU Blocking Regulation: The High Court of England Weighs In

On 18 May 2018, the European Commission announced its intention to expand Council Regulation (EC) 2271/96 of 22 November 1996 (the “Blocking Regulation”) in order to discourage European companies from complying with newly re-imposed U.S. Iran-related sanctions. On 6 June 2018, the European Commission adopted a delegated regulation to enact these changes, which will come into force by 6 August 2018 (the date when the first wind-down period for the U.S. secondary sanctions on Iran expires), provided the EU Parliament and Council do not have objections.

This blogpost considers how the Blocking Regulation will work in practice for UK and European companies, in particular in light of the UK’s departure from the European Union (“EU”) in 2019.
Continue Reading The Blocking Regulation and Brexit: the Effect of U.S. Sanctions in a Changing Europe

On 24 May 2018, the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the “Act”) received Royal Assent, marking the conclusion of its passage through Parliament and its entry into law. The sanctions powers under the Act are expected to be exercisable following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union in March 2019 (“Brexit”).[1] This blog post takes a look at the sanctions provisions in the Act and explores how the UK’s sanctions regime might look following Brexit.
Continue Reading UK Passes New Sanctions Legislation