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 leads Deloitte’s Consumer practice across North and South Europe. With over 20 years of experience across all Consumer sectors, she now focuses on clients in luxury retail. Winters is also the NSE Market Activation lead for generative AI and is adept at helping clients to grow responsibly in a rapidly changing world—advising them on like digital risk and analytics, controllership, accounting and reporting and climate and sustainability.
Marios is a Senior Manager in Deloitte’s Export Controls and Sanctions team, within Extended Enterprise in London. Marios specialises in helping companies comply with international export control and sanctions regulations, specifically for the UK, EU and US jurisdictions. Marios has a wide range of experience with providing services across a diverse range of companies operating in the aerospace and defence, oil and gas, technology, consumer, and manufacturing industries. Marios has particular experience in: Performing general and topic-specific export controls and sanctions risk assessments and audits that consider both local and US extra-territorial controls Developing and implementing target operating models for large-scale Trade Compliance Programmes to efficiently manage compliance obligations across jurisdictions and leverage automation to create value within organisations Developing fundamental trade compliance policies and procedures for processes ranging from export classification to sanctions screening, license management, logistics inbound and outbound, and recordkeeping, amongst others Developing and delivering export controls and sanctions training for military, dual-use and sanctions regulations, for all target audiences across beginners, intermediates and experts Conducting mass classification exercises for items across jurisdictions, including items containing and using encryption, and supporting clients with liaising with government authorities on classification, licensing and sanctions queries. Across a similar range of industries, Marios has also delivered wider regulatory and strategic risk projects relating to anti-bribery and corruption compliance, and internal auditing. Prior to joining Deloitte, Marios worked in several law firms and in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Within UNODC, Marios worked for the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), dealing with Member State export and import monitoring and assessing compliance with United Nations international drug treaties. Marios holds a Bachelors Degree with Honours in History from the University of Reading United Kingdom, with First Class Honours.