UK Trade Sanctions – Licences for “divestment from Russia”

Regulation 65 of the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (“the Regulations”) allows the granting of licences in order to authorise acts which would otherwise be in breach of the various trade related restrictions contained within the Regulations.

Responsibility for trade sanctions licensing in the UK sits with the Department for Business and Trade (DBT). Guidance states that the DBT will consider “each application on a case-by-case basis“. However, the same guidance also states that there are specific activities and scenarios which are likely (without guarantee) to be considered as consistent with the aims of the UK’s sanctions regime.

These activities now include – in respect of a range of trade prohibitions – where it can be shown that the underlying and otherwise prohibited actions are “necessary for the purposes of divestment from Russia” as long as there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the goods might be for a military end-user or have a military end-use and – additionally – that the relevant goods are located in Russia and have been since they became subject to the relevant prohibition.

This updated guidance may assist to businesses with longstanding commercial connections with Russian, in finding a route to exiting the Russian market.