Red tape: How to navigate the regulatory framework for your business

You have a new product or service which you’d like to bring to the market.

Do you know which laws apply to your business? Are you confident that you have met the regulatory standards which are expected of you?

Knowing where to begin when looking to answer questions such as these can be daunting without specialist help. Deep diving into regulation can be like opening Pandora’s box to the uninitiated. Fear not, as if you know where to look and who to ask, it’s not as much of a maze as it may initially seem.

Why regulate?

Before considering the ‘how’, it’s often useful to understand the ‘why’. Laws and regulation are designed and put in place to protect consumers and to ensure a level playing field. Jurisdictions with well-established and reliable regulatory frameworks instil consumer confidence and give businesses assurance as to what is expected of them. On the flip side, regulation can sometimes have a reputation as a restraint on trade and innovation, resembling something akin to a tick box exercise. If you know where to look however, this need not be the case.

Where to begin?

Regulations flux to find a balance between the two spectrums described in the above paragraph, which can make it challenging to keep abreast of the latest requirements. Whether you are well established in your field looking for tips on how to keep on top of things, or a new business just wanting to know where to begin, the following checklist is designed to help you navigate accordingly:

  • Industry or governing bodies: Check whether there are any industry bodies who can offer guidance on where to begin. Bodies such as the FSA for food products, or the MHRA for medical products, publish guidelines to inform businesses of their requirements. These guidelines are informed by the applicable regulations and are written in a much more digestible language than the raw law.
  • Industry Codes of Practice: Often more concrete than guidelines, industry codes of practice compliment laws and regulations to provide detailed practical guidance on how to comply with legal obligations. It would be prudent with check with any associations, bodies or relevant governmental departments for the latest available code of practice which may apply to your business.
  • Regulations: Having a trade which spans across different sectors will likely mean a web of legislation will apply to you and your business. Tackling the law head on is not recommended. Seeking professional assistance is the safest and most prudent option. It could be worthwhile checking websites of law firms who specialise in your field. Very often, firms will produce articles and thought pieces summarising and highlighting key aspects of new regulatory developments.
  • Moving goal posts? Post-Brexit the UK will no longer be committed to following EU legislation. Divergence from the EU framework is expected, the extent to which is yet to be seen. Businesses looking to trade to and from the EU should consider keeping abreast of both UK and EU regulatory developments. As the position in the UK falls out of alignment with the EU, be sure that your operations comply with both sets of regulatory frameworks should you wish to continue trading cross border.

If you would like to discuss any of your regulatory compliance concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch.