Report: U.S. Sanctions and the E.U. Blocking Regulation: 14 June 2019

On 8 May 2018, the United States announced its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the “JCPOA”) and the re-introduction of its nuclear-related economic sanctions on Iran that had been previously lifted as part of the JCPOA, subject to certain wind‑down periods.  On 18 May 2018, the European Commission announced its intention to expand Regulation (EC) No 2271/96 protecting against the effects of the extra-territorial application of legislation adopted by a Third Country (the “Blocking Regulation”), which, inter alia, prohibits E.U. persons from complying with specified extra-territorial sanctions, to cover the re-imposed U.S. measures on Iran.

This paper examines the issues of legal uncertainty which arise under English law as a result of the amendment to the Blocking Regulation to cover certain re-imposed U.S. sanctions on Iran.  The Blocking Regulation is not a “new” legal issue as it has been in place for many years, but the broad nature of the re-imposed U.S. sanctions and their extra-territorial application has raised some new issues and increased the prominence of existing issues of legal uncertainty which this paper seeks to address.  This paper seeks to give recommendations or views on the issues of legal uncertainty where possible, but recognises that uncertainty cannot be avoided entirely where there are two legal regimes with conflicting objectives.  This paper therefore seeks to illustrate particular areas of risk that the FMLC has identified as a result of these uncertainties.

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