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It is a simple and affordable procedure to form a private limited company in the United Kingdom, even if you are a non-UK resident. The application process and legal requirements are exactly the same for everyone, regardless of where they live.

You will have to register your company with Companies House in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. At least one director and one shareholder will be required. One person can be appointed to both of these positions, but you can also set up a company with many directors and shareholders.

A registered office address will be required. This will be your official company address. It has to be in the same UK jurisdiction where your new company is incorporated. There are three different ways to incorporated a limited company in the UK:
  • Online through a company formation agent.
  • Online via Companies House Web Incorporation Service.
  • By post using Companies House paper application.

The quickest and easiest way to form a company in the UK is to use a formation agent. Typically, applications are approved in just 3-6 working hours because everything is done online. There is no need to travel to the UK, nor do you have to speak to anyone on the telephone, post documents or sign any paperwork in person. You can upload and deliver documents electronically and create a unique online signature to authorise the registration.

What you need to know about UK companies

  • They need to be registered under and governed by the Companies Act 2006.
  • They must have a company name that is not the ‘same as’ or ‘too like’ to the name of an existing company.
  • The registered office is the official address of a company. It will be placed on public record and used by Companies House and HMRC (and other government agencies) to deliver statutory mail and legal notices.
  • Limited companies must adhere to strict filing and reporting requirements.
  • They must be registered for with HMRC for corporation tax when they begin trading.
  • Directors who are based overseas are legally required to fulfil the same duties and responsibilities as UK-based directors.
  • Company details are displayed on public record, including information about all directors, shareholders, secretaries, and people with significant control (PSC).
  • Each director, secretary, subscriber and PSC must provide a service address for Companies House. This address can be located anywhere in the world. It will be used for the delivery statutory mail.

BUSINESS FORMATION IN THE UK

When doing business in the United Kingdom, your activities can be structured in various ways. It will be important for Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa applicants to select a business structure that will balance tax and administrative efficiency against legal protections provided by more formal arrangements.

Of importance, the decision to form a UK business may not require expats to consider how such arrangements will be taxed by their country of nationality. Unfortunately, due to the worldwide tax and information reporting regime in place in the United States, American expats must actively consider cross border tax and reporting obligations that their businesses will encounter.

Notably, recent changes to the US tax system brought about by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act have created a dynamic environment where American business owners operating overseas will want to revisit any ongoing tax planning or compliance strategies. This legislation establishes a new tax on certain foreign income that can have a profoundly negative impact on individual shareholders of certain foreign corporations. Planning opportunities are available to minimize exposure to this new tax, but existing businesses should take action quickly as these rules are applicable to tax year 2018.

While there are numerous other UK business structures designed to achieve specific funding or operational goals, the information below covers the most common methods for operating UK business activities.

Sole Trader

Without question, operating as a sole trader provides the easiest option for setting up and managing the ongoing administration of your UK business affairs. Sole traders simply register their independent business activity with HMRC and are ready to begin business. Note, however, that many businesses selling products or engaging in other regulated activities will still maintain the responsibility to register for Value Added Tax (VAT) and any other relevant licenses that may be applicable to their business.

The notable drawback of operating as a sole trader is that no limited liability protection is provided. This means that you would remain personally responsible for debts and other liabilities of the business. Given this lack of protection, operating as a sole trader would be a risky option for most business owners.

Partnership

A partnership in the UK is formed when a group of at least two individuals collectively engage in an activity with the goal of producing a profit. A nominated partner is tasked with registering the business with HMRC and each partner will need to register for self-assessment on their partnership income. Income tax is calculated at each partner’s individual tax rate based on their respective share of partnership income, as if they were sole traders.

A partnership agreement is not required but is recommended in all situations, irrespective of personal or family dynamics that may characterize the business relationship. As is the case with sole trader status, no limited liability protection is offered to owners of these traditional partnerships. Moreover, as partners could potentially be responsible for the business debt attributable to other partners, the risk of operating without limited liability here is even greater than it is for sole traders.

Those wishing to maintain certain tax and operating features of a partnership while ensuring limited liability from debts of the business may want to consider organizing a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). LLPs are required to register with the Companies House, must submit annual financial reports, and are regulated in a similar way to private limited companies described below.

Private Company Limited By Shares (LTD)

Private limited companies are widely popular among UK business owners and are available for both individual owners and group ownership structures. No minimum capital requirement is applicable and limited liability is offered to shareholders, protecting their personal assets form debts of the business. This structure may be desirable for expats who do not want the risk of operating without limited liability, but accounting for tax attributes will need to be a crucial part of the decision.

Establishing a private limited company is relatively straightforward and requires that Articles of Association, along with several other documents, be filed upon formation. The business is not obligated to hold meetings, but financial statements must be submitted annually within nine months of the company’s financial year-end. Smaller companies may qualify for simplified reporting and all private limited companies are subject to annual corporate tax filling responsibilities.

Private limited companies are required to have at least one company director who must be a natural person, but it can be the sole shareholder of the company. Shares in a private limited company cannot be offered for sale to the general public and a transfer of shares can only occur through a private agreement of the shareholder.

Public Limited Company (PLC)

Businesses that want the ability to offer shares of the company for sale to the public are required to organize a public limited company. This type of entity is characterized by significant organization and administrative costs as well as strict formalities around meetings, voting, and other activities of the business enterprise.

Ultimately, while private limited companies will be the most common operating structure for expat entrepreneurs and business owners, the details of every business arrangement must be closely considered. Tax and immigration laws as well as the ongoing costs of compliance and administration should be factored into the broader decision-making surrounding the appropriate structure for the business.

If you are an American entrepreneur or investor contemplating a new business or a move to United Kingdom, our firm can assist with developing an effective strategy and ensuring you maintain compliance on both sides of the pond.


It is always helpful to get professional advice before proceeding with any investment.  Tax advice is especially critical as taxes can make an otherwise attractive investment unattractive. Ways in which an adviser can help –
  • Advising on appropriate structures to avoid or minimise UK income tax, stamp duty land tax, VAT and inheritance tax
  • Introducing appropriate UK advisers including legal advisers and letting management agents
  • Establishing non-resident status with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
  • Arranging for income to be received gross
  • Identifying and maximising tax deductible expenditures and capital allowances
  • Submitting rental income returns to the HMRC and advising taxation payments due
Taxable elements need to be held separately from non-taxable elements.   Typically, a non-UK company holds the property and another (typically, a UK company) to carry out the trading activity/development project.  There is flexibility to superimpose whatever ownership structure is desired above the 'special purpose vehicle' that owns the property.  A UK resident landlord includes the property income on the annual tax return he makes to HMRC. Tax for a tax year (which in the UK runsfrom 6 April to 5 April) is sometimes paid in advance of filing the tax return. Payment is often made in two instalments on 31 January in the year and 31 July following the end of the year with sometimes a final payment on the following 31 January when the tax return is filed.

The treatment described above as applying to UK residents will normally be offered to any non-UK resident landlord who applies for it.  However, if this treatment is not applied for (or if HMRC reject the application) a much harsher collection regime is imposed. Any managing agent must deduct and pay to the Revenue tax (at 20%) from rents net of any expenses that he pays on behalf of the landlord; a tenant who pays direct to the landlord must deduct tax at basic rate from all rent payments (unless the rent is less than £100 per week). Where tax deducted at source exceeds the true tax liability for the year it is possible to obtain repayment from the Inland Revenue by filing a tax return.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rates-and-allowances-capital-gains-tax/capital-gains-tax-rates-and-annual-tax-free-allowances

In principle, capital gains on commercial property made by a non-UK investor are not subject to tax. Therefore a non-UK entity, typically a company, should be used to hold the property. In order to benefit from this exemption, two key conditions need to be satisfied:
  • The investor must not be engaged in 'trading' activity in relation to the property in question. Material redevelopment of the property or an intention at the time of purchase to sell the property within the first few years after acquisition would generally constitute trading.  New rules mean that the profits of any development activity carried on in the UK are subject to tax in the UK.
  • 'Management and control' of the non-UK entity must take place outside the UK. Therefore, while UK agents may take day-to-day decisions in the UK, any more strategic decisions must be taken outside the UK.
In general the UK only taxes individuals who are UK tax resident to capital gains tax.  The main exception is on residential property.  The UK tax loophole which allowed overseas investors and British Expats to avoid Capital Gains Tax (CGT)  on the sale of residential property is now largely closed.The legislation allows three ways in which such gains can be taxed however in most cases tax will be charged based on the proceeds less the value at 5 April 2015 (or if the property was purchased after 5 April 2015 the cost at purchase).

Since the new rules came into force in April 2015 as a non-resident, when you sell a UK residential property you must tell the HMRC, even if you have no capital gains tax to declare. This also applies if you are selling, or have sold, your main residence. Failure to correctly make a capital gains tax declaration tothe HMRC within 30 days after conveyancing (transferring ownership of) your property is likely to result in a penalty – even if there is no capital gains tax to pay. Non-resident companies have potentially been liable to UK capital gains tax on the disposal of UK residential property since 1 April 2013 if the property was valued at more than £2 million. That threshold has now dropped to £500,000 and covers most properties in the London area. Disposals of commercial property by non-resident investors remain exempt from UK capital gains tax.

A word of caution is needed though: the tax rules summarised above assume that the investment in real estate is a genuine investment, made in order to generate rental income and with a view to long-term capital growth.  If however property is acquired with the sole or main object of realising a profit on disposal, with or without any development of the property, any gain on disposal will normally be treated as income rather than as capital gains. It will therefore be subject to UK taxation as income and the beneficial treatment of capital gains referred to above will not be available.

Ordinary Income

UK income tax is charged on income from letting property situated in the UK regardless of the residence status of the landlord.  This income is computed using ordinary accounting principles.
  • Income and expenses can be taken into account on an accruals or an arising basis.
  • Normal revenue expenses of earning income are tax deductible, including repairs, maintenance, insurance, management fees etc. It is important that detailed records, including invoices, are kept.
  • Interest on a loan taken to acquire the property is in principle tax deductible though relief will be restricted to the basic rate of tax on a transitional basis from 6 April 2017 and phased in over 4 years.
  • If the loan is taken from a connected party then relief will be restricted to the amount of interest that would have been paid in the open market. Even where capital is available it can often be tax efficient to borrow to invest in UK property.
  • Capital expenditure (for example, on improvements to property as distinct from repairs and maintenance) is not deductible from rental income. It will instead be regarded as an additional cost to be taken into account when calculating any gain arising on a disposal of the property provided that it can be said to enhance the value of the property.
  • No tax relief is available for depreciation or amortisation of the property itself. But in the case of commercial property, capital allowances (which are effectively depreciation allowances at a low standardised rate) are available for those elements of the property which meet the description of “plant and machinery”. This can be a valuable relief and the element attracting these allowances is normally negotiated (within statutory limits) at the time of purchase.
  • All lettings carried on by a particular person are amalgamated for tax purposes and treated as a single business; thus if some properties are loss-making and others profitable, the set-off for tax purposes is made automatically.
  • Non-UK-resident owners other than individuals (such as companies or trustees) pay tax on the profits computed at a flat rate of 20%. Individuals are liable at progressive rates rising from 20% to 45%, though many non-resident individuals (broadly, citizens of any state in the European Economic Area and certain Commonwealth countries) are entitled to claim personal allowances which give exemption from tax for the first £11,000 or so of profit.
  • The income may also be subject to tax in the property owner’s home jurisdiction, although if there is a double Taxation Treaty with the UK (which is likely – the UK ‘s Treaties are among the most comprehensive in the world) the treaty will sometimes benefit the owner.
Income derived from the property by a non-UK resident company will be subject to income tax at the basic rate of 20%. This tax is subject to a 'withholding' regime which means that the tenant or other paying entity must deduct the tax due and account for it directly to the tax authority, HM Revenue & Customs ('HMRC'). In most cases, the holding company or other owning entity will register under HMRC's 'non-resident landlord scheme' which will allow it to receive income gross, deduct expenses, calculate taxable profits, and submit a UK tax return in the usual way.

Gearing / Borrowing to Invest

Currently (subject to the commerciality test) all borrowing costs are deductible to reduce taxable profit, but changes targeted for April 2017 will limit the amount of deductible interest to 30% of the owner's EBITDA (broadly equivalent to income in the context of an SPV owning a single property let on a 'full repairing and insuring' (or in US terms, 'triple net') lease. This restriction is likely to apply equally to UK and non-UK owners and will bring the UK into line with a number of other 'competitor' markets.

Capital allowances

It is not unusual for the seller's 'capital allowances' to be transferred, in whole or part, to the buyer. These are 'writing down' allowances against taxable profits in respect of historic capital investment in plant and machinery. The allowances are at the rate of 18% a year, with an 8% rate applying to 'integral features', and generally have effect on a 'reducing balance' basis. Each year the allowance is applied to the balance of expenditure after deduction of previous years' allowances, for example the 18% allowance is applied to 100% of the qualifying expenditure in the first year but to only 82% of the expenditure in the following year and so on. This means that around 75% of the expenditure is 'written down' over the first seven years. On the sale of a property, the seller may well wish to retain any unused capital allowances. However, where the buyer would be able to benefit from them more than the seller, it may make more commercial sense for the seller to pass them to the buyer, generally for additional consideration.

Stamp duty land tax ('SDLT')

It is payable by the buyer. The purchase price will include any VAT, but fortunately this ‘tax on tax' is rarely levied

SDLT will be payable within 30 days after ‘substantial performance' of the transaction, which is usually completion.

If a non-UK propco (as opposed to the real estate it owns) is sold, no SDLT or stamp duty will be payable. If a UK propco is sold, stamp duty at 0.5% will be payable.

Value added tax ('VAT')

Supplies of land and buildings, such as freehold sales, leasing or renting, are normally exempt from VAT. This means that no VAT ispayable, but the person making the supply cannot normally recover any of the VAT incurred on their own expenses. However, you can opt to tax land. For the purposes of VAT, the term ‘land’ includes any buildings or structures permanently affixed to it. You don’t need to own the land in order to opt to tax. Once you have opted to tax all the supplies you make of your interest in the land or buildings will normally be standard rated, and you will normally be able to recover any VAT you incur in making those supplies.

VAT at 20% may be charged on the purchase price of commercial or mixed-use properties. This will be the case with new buildings and those where the seller has ‘opted to tax'. In cases where the sale is subject to VAT, there will be little practical alternative other than to ‘opt to tax'. That will often have the effect of making the sale itself VAT-free (and consequently mitigating the SDLT payable)

Where there is no immediate need to opt to tax, you should consider the best strategy for the property as a whole, taking into account future expenditure plans and the likely tenant-mix profile as some tenants will not be able to recover the VAT paid on rent.

Many of the costs incurred by investors in UK real estate will be liable to UK VAT at 20%, including legal, architects and survey fees, state agents charges and other professional costs. Since the letting of residential accommodation is (in almost all cases) not a “taxable activity” for VAT purposes, the VAT suffered on those costs is not generally recoverable. Furthermore, VAT remains chargeable on services relating to UK land regardless of the place in which the recipient “belongs” for VAT purposes; the zero-rating available in respect of certain international services is not available where the services relate directly to UK land. Some associated services less directly connected with land (for example, accountancy fees) will usually be zero-rated where supplied to a non-resident.

Some commercial property is within the scope of VAT and it is normally possible to elect (on a property-by-property basis) to bring commercial (but not residential) properties within the VAT regime.  We can advise on whether such an election is necessary, possible or desirable and to assist with relevant registrations.  Residential and commercial developments and conversions may be affected by special rules on which we can also advise.

IHT: inheritance tax

Inheritance tax (which is normally payable only by individuals) combines some of the features of a gift tax, death duty and wealth tax. For most non-UK resident individual property investors, who have had no prior connection with the UK, only assets within the UK will be within its scope.  Although, with a 40% rate on death and a 20% rate on lifetime transfers, inheritance tax is at first sight a significant impost. There are many reliefs and exemptions which, properly used, can greatly reduce its impact. In particular:-
  • the first £325,000 of transfers (on a seven-year rolling basis) are free of tax
  • many transfers are “potentially exempt ” and create a charge to tax only if death follows within seven years of the date of the transfer
  • the use of trusts may often effect substantial savings

From 6 April 2017, UK residential property is liable to UK inheritance tax regardless of how it is held. High-value residential properties owned by companies

New rules were introduced in 2012 affecting the tax paid in relation to residential properties that are purchased and owned by companies, for properties with a value in excess of £2,000,000. The threshold was reduced to £1 million at 1 April 2015 and £500,000 at 1 April 2016. Where these rules apply, they can create an SDLT rate of up to 15% on purchase; an Annual Tax Charge of up to £218,200; and an uplifted CGT charge on sale. 
The Tier 2 work permit system replaces the old UK Work Permit system. Tier 2 work permits are applied for by employees who are coming to the UK to fill a vacant position that cannot be filled by a British citizen and who have confirmed sponsorship from a licensed UK employer. It is vital that the employer can show that the business is genuine and that there is a genuine requirement for the intended role. In addition, the proposed employee must be suitably skilled and/or qualified for the vacant position, meeting the basic requirements and passing the Tier 2 points test. In order for an employer to be able to obtain a work permit, in most cases they must first be able to prove that they had advertised the position nationally and could not fill it with someone from inside the European Economic Area. Note: If you are looking to fill a position on the Shortage Occupation List it does not need to be advertised. Employer Sponsorship Licence Requirements In order for an employer to sponsor a foreign worker, the employer must first have an Employer Sponsorship Licence. There are 4 categories of Tier 2 work permits:
  • Skilled Worker - the Tier 2 skilled worker category is for people with a specific skilled job offer in the UK who are needed to fill a temporary gap in the labour force.
  • Intra-Company Transfer - the intra-company transfer category is for people who are being transferred to a UK branch of their organisation.
  • Sports People - the sports people category is for elite professional athletes and coaches.
  • Minister of Religion - the minister of religion category is for workers within a bona fide religion.
 

The following is designed to provide general immigration and business law information for those independently relocating to or residing in the United Kingdom and does not constitute legal advice. As with all legal issues, seeking tailored advice from qualified counsel is advisable.

UK IMMIGRATION OPTIONS

It goes without saying that if you intend to work in the UK or remain for any extended period of time, you will require a visa. The most straightforward path to obtaining a visa granting such privileges is through support from an employer, a college or university, or a family member. Yet in the absence of such opportunities, other options, although limited, may still be available. Entrepreneurs, individuals with exceptional talent, and those looking to invest substantial amounts in UK markets may be able to relocate to, or extend their stay in the UK, irrespective of sponsorship from a family member or employer.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

If certain requirements are met, this visa may be available to those with access to £200,000 to invest into a UK business who can demonstrate they are able to support themselves while residing in the UK. Individuals with funding through select competitions, the UK government, and certain venture capital firms can qualify for a reduced funding requirement of £50,000.

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa can be held for three years and four months and allows holders to bring their spouse or partner and children. The visa can be extended for another two years, three in certain circumstances. After five years of presence in the country on this visa, it may be possible to apply for settlement in the UK, which grants the privilege to remain indefinitely.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

Similar to the standard visa for entrepreneurs, students in the UK are able to apply for visa privileges through a less costly option. Only £50,000 in funding is required for the business and the visa is available for one year, with a one-year extension period.

The visa on its own does not permit settlement in the UK but does provide a clear path for transition to the standard entrepreneur visa. One of the primary benefits of this option is that it can be pursued with only £50,000 in funding, as opposed to the £200,000 that would otherwise be required. Investments made to the business within the prior 24 months can satisfy the funding requirement, potentially eliminating any need for additional capital when changing visa types.

Given these relaxed funding standards, as you can expect, the application process can be highly competitive. A limited number of visas are issued each year and candidates must obtain a letter of endorsement from UK trade authorities or an institution of higher education in the UK attesting to the applicant’s entrepreneurial capabilities and the merit of their business opportunity.

Tier 1 (Investor)

This visa requires an investment of at least £2,000,000 into the UK rendering it an option only for those with substantial financial means. To be eligible, the investment must be made in UK government bonds or active and trading UK registered companies. The funds are largely prohibited from investment in the real estate industry.

It can be maintained for up to three years and four months and extended for another two years, with settlement available after five. The settlement timeline is reduced to three years with an investment of £5 million and two years with an investment of £10 million.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

To qualify for this visa, you must have been endorsed as a recognized or emerging leader in the fields of science, medicine, digital technology, or the arts. As with the graduate entrepreneur visa, the application process is highly competitive and only a limited number of visas are granted each year under this category.

Before applying, an endorsement must be sought from the Home Office attesting to your status in your field of practice. If ultimately granted a visa under this category, you will be able to stay in the UK for up to five years and four months and can extend for another five years. As with other categories, settlement is available after five years.

Rigidity of visa guidelines go a long way to ensuring that expats arrive in the United Kingdom with vetted business plans, verified talent, and financial means to handle the transition smoothly. The downside is that the financial thresholds and competitive nature of the application process may place most of these visas out of reach for many expats, forcing reliance on support from employers or family members to obtain UK visa status.

While the battle is uphill, the hardworking expat entrepreneur with a promising business idea and a bit of wind in their sails may very well be able to access UK market opportunities in a manner that ultimately leads to settlement and residency status. If this describes you, deciding how you will structure your business is the next step.


Business Contract

General Observation
In English (common) law, there are 3 key elements to the creation of a contract: these are offer and acceptance, consideration and an intention to create legal relations. See an overview by following this .
Law Applicable to the Contract
You must be particularly vigilant about the law applicable to the contract and the methods of conflict resolution. Indeed, the UK is not a signatory to the Vienna Convention on International Contracts.
Advisable Incoterms
FOB, CFR, CIF
Language of Domestic Contract
English. It can be translated, but will then often include a clause stating that the English version will prevail for all interpretation purposes.

Intellectual Property

National Organisations
The UK Intellectual Property Office, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The Government web page Intellectual property and your work offers useful tips on protecting intellectual property.

The United Kingdom is part of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and of the Agreement establishing the World Intellectual property Organization (WIPO). The United Kingdom signed the Patent Co-operation Treaty and the Agreement of Nice.

International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
 

National Regulation and International Agreements

 
Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
Patent
 
Patent Act
1977
20 years Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Trademark
 
Trademarks Act
1994
10 years Trademark Law Treaty
Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
Design
 
Design Act
1949
5 years  
Copyright
 
Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988
70 years except for typographical arrangements, where it is 25 years. Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms
Rome ConventionFor the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations
WIPO Copyright Treaty
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty

Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
Equal treatment is guaranteed under the law.
The Language of Justice
English
Recourse to an Interpreter
In case of penal action, an interpreter should be made available for individuals who do not speak or understand English sufficiently. Interpreters should be registered with the NRPSI (National Register of Public Service Interpreters).
Legal Similarities
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy based on parliamentary democracy. In the absence of a written constitution, the main source of the law in the country is the common law with early Roman and modern continental influences. Scotland has a separate legal system. The UK accepts compulsory ICJ (International Court of Justice) jurisdiction but with reservations. As a member of the EU, the national law of the UK complies with the conditions of the Community legislation.
 

The Different Legal Codes

 
English Criminal Code Criminal Law Act of 1977
 
Checking National Laws Online
British Law - Community information site for citizens and small businesses
Other Useful Resources
Public Services.
The Law Society International Division.
Country Guides
LexMundi, A guide to doing business in the UK compiled by MMS

The Jurisdictions

House of Lords The House of Lords is the final court of appeal in all matters under English law, Welsh law and Northern Irish law.
Court of Appeal Criminal Division and Civil Division.
High Court Queen's Bench Division; Administrative Court; Family Division; Divisional Court; Chancery Division; Divisional Court.
Crown Court Trials of indictable offences, appeals from magistrates' courts, cases for sentences.
Magistrates' Courts Trials of summary offences, committals to the Crown Court, family proceedings courts and youth courts.
County Courts Majority of civil litigation subject to nature of the claim.
Tribunals Hear appeals from decisions on immigration, social security, child support, pensions, tax and lands.
 
 

Court Officials

Judges
They are high-level lawyers appointed by the Ministry of Justice on the basis of their competences and personal reputation.
Justices of the Peace from Magistrates' Courts)
Professionals such as teachers, entrepreneurs, who carry out their duties part-time, assisted by Clerks to the Justices who advise them on legal procedures.
Solicitors
Solicitors look after the legal preparation of the case, which includes the analysis of the facts and the identification of relevant documents. They advise their clients on applicable regulations and alternative modes of conflict resolution, prepare conclusions and liaise with the other party's solicitor. They are the client's main contact.
Barristers
In recent years, the distinction between solicitors and barristers has been broken down and certain solicitors are now allowed to appear as advocates in higher courts, as long as they have been authorized to do so by the relevant authority.
Notaries Public
Notaries public undertake work for private individuals, and for commercial firms engaged in international trade.

Learn more about Legal and Compliance in the United Kingdom on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

International Dispute Resolution

Arbitration Law
The main goals of the Arbitration Act 1996 were to provide a clear and accessible statement of the law; to limit judicial involvement in the arbitral process and to limit rights of appeal against arbitral awards.
To the extent that the Arbitration Act differs from the UNCITRAL Model Law, most of these differences can be opted out of by the parties.  They do not, therefore, significantly constrain party autonomy.  At a practical level, it is important for the parties to be aware of the flexibility of the Arbitration Act so that they are best positioned to craft the optimal arbitration procedure for the contract and subject matter at hand.
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules
Party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Party to the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses.
Party to the Geneva Convention of the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Appointment of Arbitrators
The parties are free to agree on the procedure for appointing the arbitrator or arbitrators. See paragraph 16 (Part I) of the Arbitration Act 1996.
Arbitration Procedure
Within certain bounds, the parties are free to agree the arbitral process they choose and the evidence that will be used in the procedure.
Permanent Arbitration Bodies
The Academy of Experts (Sectors Covered: The Professional Body for Expert Witnesses.)
The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIARB) (Sectors Covered: A recognized world leader in providing training and qualifications in Arbitration, Mediation and Adjudication.)
The London Maritime Arbitrators Association (LMAA) (Sectors Covered: Maritime arbitration)
FALCA (Sectors Covered: Fast and Low Cost Arbitration)
The Society of Construction Arbitrators (Sectors Covered: Construction Dispute Resolution)
London Court of International Arbitration (Sectors Covered: International arbitration)
International Chamber of Commerce's International Court of Arbitration (Sectors Covered: International commercial arbitration)
Stock Exchange Panel on Takeovers and Mergers (Sectors Covered: Takeover bid disputes)

According to the 2011 census, the total population of the United Kingdom was around 63,182,000. It is the 22nd-largest country in the world. Its overall population density is 259 people per square kilometre (671 people per sq mi), with England having a significantly higher population density than Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Almost one-third of the population lives in England's southeast, which is predominantly urban and suburban, with about 8 million in the capital city of London, the population density of which is just over 5,200 per square kilometre (13,468 per sq mi).

The population of the United Kingdom is considered an example of a population that has undergone the 'demographic transition' – that is, the transition from a (typically) pre-industrial population with high birth and mortality rates and only slow population growth, through a stage of falling mortality and faster rates of population growth, to a stage of low birth and mortality rates with, again, lower rates of population growth. This population growth through 'natural change' has been accompanied in the past two decades by growth through net international migration into the UK.

The United Kingdom's assumed high literacy rate (99% at age 15 and above) is attributable to universal public education introduced for the primary level in 1870 (Scotland 1872, free 1890) and secondary level in 1900. Parents are obliged to have their children educated from the ages of 5 to 18 (raised from 16 in 2013), and can continue education free of charge in the form of A-Levels, vocational training or apprenticeship to age 18. The Church of England and the Church of Scotland function as the national churches in their respective countries, but all the major religions found in the world are represented in the United Kingdom.

The UK's population is predominantly White British. Being located close to continental Europe, the countries that formed the United Kingdom were subject to many invasions and migrations from the continent, especially from Scandinavia, including Roman occupation for several centuries. Historically, British people were thought to be descended mainly from the different ethnic stocks that settled there before the 11th century: pre-Celtic, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman. Although Celtic languages are partially spoken in Scotland, Cornwall, and Northern Ireland, the predominant language overall is English. In North and West Wales, Welsh is widely spoken as a first language, but much less so in the South East of the country, where English is the predominant language.


An overview of the technology sector in the UK

Our technology sector is larger than the rest of Europe combined; it has been one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK over the last decade. The technology we produce underpins all sectors from financial services and high-value manufacturing to retail and agriculture.

The UK offers an outstanding environment for global tech companies. We have:
  • a strong start-up culture bolstered by tech clusters all over the UK
  • a ranking of third best place in the world in the Global Innovation Index in 2016
  • an active venture capital community - the UK has the highest number of initial public offerings (IPOs) and more tech 'unicorns' (a start-up company valued at over 1 billion USD) created than anywhere else in Europe
  • the largest e-commerce market in Europe
  • 4 of the world’s top 10 universities, plus educational providers that develop our technology workforce
The UK's technology economy has strengths in electronic systems, communications, data management and analytics, data centres, cloud services, artificial intelligence, cyber, semiconductor design and sensors.

Tech businesses are at the heart of the UK economy and are playing an important role in driving growth across the country.


Economy - overview

The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is the third largest economy in Europe after Germany and France. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force. The UK has large coal, natural gas, and oil resources, but its oil and natural gas reserves are declining; the UK has been a net importer of energy since 2005. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, are key drivers of British GDP growth. Manufacturing, meanwhile, has declined in importance but still accounts for about 10% of economic output.

In 2008, the global financial crisis hit the economy particularly hard, due to the importance of its financial sector. Falling home prices, high consumer debt, and the global economic slowdown compounded the UK’s economic problems, pushing the economy into recession in the latter half of 2008 and prompting the then BROWN (Labour) government to implement a number of measures to stimulate the economy and stabilize the financial markets. Facing burgeoning public deficits and debt levels, in 2010 the then CAMERON-led coalition government (between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) initiated an austerity program, which has continued under the Conservative government. However, the deficit still remains one of the highest in the G7, standing at 3.6% of GDP as of 2017, and the UK has pledged to lower its corporation tax from 20% to 17% by 2020. The UK had a debt burden of 90.4% GDP at the end of 2017.

The UK’s economy has begun to slow since the referendum vote to leave the EU in June 2016. A sustained depreciation of the British pound has increased consumer and producer prices, weighing on consumer spending without spurring a meaningful increase in exports. The UK has an extensive trade relationship with other EU members through its single market membership and economic observers have warned the exit will jeopardize its position as the central location for European financial services. Prime Minister MAY is seeking a new “deep and special” trade relationship with the EU following the UK’s exit. However, economists doubt that the UK will be able to preserve the benefits of EU membership without the obligations.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$2.88 trillion (2017 est.)
$2.833 trillion (2016 est.)
$2.783 trillion (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$2.565 trillion (2016 est.)
GDP - real growth rate1.7% (2017 est.)
1.8% (2016 est.)
2.2% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$43,600 (2017 est.)
$43,200 (2016 est.)
$42,700 (2015 est.)
note: data are in 2017 dollars
Gross national saving13.4% of GDP (2017 est.)
12.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
13% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 65.3%
government consumption: 19%
investment in fixed capital: 16.6%
investment in inventories: 0.7%
exports of goods and services: 30.1%
imports of goods and services: -31.7% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 0.6%
industry: 19%
services: 80.4%
(2017 est.)
Population below poverty line15% (2013 est.)
Labor force33.5 million (2017 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 1.3%
industry: 15.2%
services: 83.5% (2014 est.)
Unemployment rate4.4% (2017 est.)
4.9% (2016 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 14.6%
male: 16.2%
female: 12.9% (2015 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 31.1% (2012)
Distribution of family income - Gini index32.4 (2012)
33.4 (2010)
Budgetrevenues: $984.4 billion
expenditures: $1.076 trillion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues38.4% of GDP (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-3.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
Public debt90.4% of GDP (2017 est.)
89.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and include debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions
Inflation rate (consumer prices)2.6% (2017 est.)
0.7% (2016 est.)
Central bank discount rate0.25% (31 December 2016)
0.5% (31 December 2015)
Commercial bank prime lending rate4.3% (31 December 2017 est.)
4.44% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money$104.8 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$96.15 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money$3.066 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)
$2.778 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$3.042 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)
$2.785 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$3.019 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
$2.903 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
$3.107 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)
Agriculture - productscereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, poultry; fish
Industriesmachine tools, electric power equipment, automation equipment, railroad equipment, shipbuilding, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, electronics and communications equipment, metals, chemicals, coal, petroleum, paper and paper products, food processing, textiles, clothing, other consumer goods
Industrial production growth rate0.7% (2017 est.)
Current Account Balance-$91.42 billion (2017 est.)
-$114.5 billion (2016 est.)
Exports$436.5 billion (2017 est.)
$407.3 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commoditiesmanufactured goods, fuels, chemicals; food, beverages, tobacco
Exports - partnersUS 14.8%, Germany 10.7%, France 6.4%, Netherlands 6.2%, Ireland 5.6%, Switzerland 4.6%, China 4.4% (2016)
Imports$602.5 billion (2017 est.)
$588.4 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmanufactured goods, machinery, fuels; foodstuffs
Imports - partnersGermany 13.6%, US 9.3%, China 9.2%, Netherlands 7.4%, France 5.2%, Belgium 4.9%, Switzerland 4.5% (2016)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$135 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$129.6 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$8.126 trillion (31 March 2016 est.)
$8.642 trillion (31 March 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$2.027 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.858 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$1.634 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.611 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange ratesBritish pounds (GBP) per US dollar -
0.7836 (2017 est.)
0.738 (2016 est.)
0.738 (2015 est.)
0.607 (2014 est.)
0.6391 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year6 April - 5 April