Posted: 23 Jul. 2020 5 min. read

UK to resume military-related exports to Saudi Arabia and coalition partners



On 20th June 2019, a judgment of the Court of Appeal concluded that British arms sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful. The judgement accused ministers of ignoring whether airstrikes that killed civilians in the Yemen civil war broke humanitarian law, making the UK arms-related sales to Saudi Arabia non-compliant with UK trade law.

The principal issue in the Court of Appeal was the UK’s analysis of whether there was a historic pattern of breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL). The UK had not reached findings on whether specific incidents constituted breaches of IHL by Saudi Arabia. Consequently, the Court of Appeal concluded that the decision-making process was irrational and therefore unlawful.

On 7th July, the UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Elizabeth Truss, updated the House of Commons on activities undertaken since the judgement. It was announced that to address the Court of Appeal’s judgment, the UK had “developed a revised methodology in respect of all allegations”, concluding that “there is not a clear risk that the export of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia might be used in the commission of a serious violation of IHL”. Consequently, the Government will resume military related trade with Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners. They will begin the process of clearing the backlog of licence applications that has built up since 20th June 2019. As procedure requires, each application must be assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. The UK expects it will take some months to clear the backlog.

Companies applying for authorisations to export to Saudi Arabia and coalition partners will need to undertake robust end-use and end-user controls. This involves understand who the end-users of products, technologies, and services are, and what their end-uses. Companies with approved licences will need strict processes to ensure compliance with authorisation requirements.

To further understand how companies can comply with export controls requirements, please contact our Regulatory Risk team members:

  • Stacey Winters is a Partner in Deloitte’s Risk Advisory Practice
  • Julia Bell is a Director in Deloitte’s Risk Advisory Practice
  • Marios Leonidou is a Senior Consultant in Deloitte’s Risk Advisory Practice

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Key contacts:

Stacey Winters

Stacey Winters

Partner

Stacey Winters leads our Aerospace and Defence sector in the UK. Serving our most prominent Aerospace and Defence clients, Stacey has years of experience in supporting both commercial Aerospace and Defence programmes around the world. Her subject matter expertise is focused on regulatory risk and compliance, with a particular focus on export controls, including the US ITAR. Functionally, Stacey leads our Global Export Control and Sanctions practice, and has over 17 years’ experience in standing up compliance programmes for complex organisations with diverse global compliance obligations. Her experience spans organisational and functional design, programme development and management, automation, risk assessments, audits, and investigations, and Government liaison. Stacey also has global responsibility for our Risk Advisory services across the Aerospace and Defence sector. Stacey works with a number of our clients across industries, particularly in the field of sanctions compliance, and has recently supported a number of companies assessing the potential risks and opportunities presented by the lifting of EU sanctions against Iran. Her sanctions experience has focused on EU and US sanctions against Russia, Iran and the US trade embargo on Cuba. Stacey has worked across the media, telecommunications and energy sectors to help clients assess risk and implement effective internal controls when working with these jurisdictions. Stacey is on the editorial board of World ECR and an active member of various trade associations in the UK and the US. In 2008, Stacey was awarded Professional Woman of the Future by the Woman of the Future Awards and Real Business magazine and was named one of the UK’s “35 Women Under 35” by Management Today. She is an advocate for gender equality and enjoys her role as a mentor to inspiring young women. Stacey earned a B.A degree with Honors in Export Management and European Languages from Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland. Stacey is mother of two boys and an active supporter for breast cancer research charities.

Julia Bell

Julia Bell

Director

Julia leads Deloitte’s Global Export Controls & Sanctions team in London. She has led compliance-enhancing projects for a number of years in a variety of industries, including financial services, consumer products, oil and gas, aerospace & defence, manufacturing and the technology, media and telecommunications industries. She is a specialist in US, EU, UK, French, German and other EU Member State military, dual-use and sanctions regulations. Julia has a thorough understanding of the export control challenges faced by companies involved in international trade activities. More broadly, Julia supports her clients in developing integrated compliance programmes to manage their regulatory compliance requirements (including export controls, ABAC and data privacy), with a focus on lean business requirements to manage regulatory obligations. Julia has also been involved in the development of a number of different technology solutions to manage export compliance requirements, and has supported clients to develop and implement their digital strategies for effective compliance management.