UK Finance and legal partners review of new UK sanctions regulations

In January 2020 the UK formally left the EU and moved into the agreed transition period. During this period all EU legislation has continued to apply to the UK, and this includes sanctions legislation.

The UK currently applies and implements sanctions from a number of sources. They can originate from the United Nations (UN), from the EU or from UK domestic sanctions.

European sanctions have been implemented through regulations made under the European Communities Act 1972[1]. When the transition period ends on 31 December at 11pm GMT as agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement[2], EU sanctions legislation and regulations will cease to have effect in the United Kingdom.

To manage an orderly exit from EU sanctions and provide tools for managing and maintaining a UK sanctions regime, the UK passed the Sanctions and Anti Money Laundering Act[3] (SAMLA) in 2018. This allows ministers to make sanctions regulation in application of UN sanctions or any other international obligation, or for a range of purposes[4] including furthering the prevention of terrorism, furthering a foreign policy objective, in the interest of international peace and security, etc..

Under this Act, sanctions regimes are managed via statutory instruments (SIs) which will come into force at the end of the transition period. The only exception to this is the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020[5], the first UK autonomous sanctions regime, which came into force on 6 July 2020.

With the UK effectively replacing the current EU legislation with new SAMLA-derived SIs, a significant body of legislation has been laid under SAMLA, with more to come as we move to the end of the transition period.

Currently over 30 SIs are ready to replace the existing EU-derived ones. Along with the sanctions SIs, nine amendment SIs have also been laid. These have enacted over 130 amendments to the SAMLA-derived SIs currently published.

Over the past few months, UK Finance and its members have established a need for an exhaustive review of the new legislation to prepare for its implementation on 1 January 2021. The financial sector and partnering industries are committed to implementing the new UK regulations to the best of their ability.

In order to understand and highlight the impacts of the new UK legislation, UK Finance has worked with six legal partners to review and compare the existing EU legislation with the new UK legislation. This allows a full understanding of the areas where the requirements, language or general policy can cause interpretation to expand or contract. The UK legislation is designed to replace the current EU derived legislation, but it also allows the UK to finesse the regimes with language that was not possible via the EU legislation.

UK Finance is publishing the review of all regulations laid before 15 September 2020. Users can access a complete review containing all sanctions regimes, by alphabetical order. Alternatively, users can access individual regimes reviews, with any changes classified by risk to financial firms (high, medium or low).

This review is a living document which will continue to be updated as more SIs and amendments are laid. For this purpose, the current version will expire after 30 November 2020 and will be replaced with an updated one. Please ensure you use the correct version available on the UK Finance website after that date.

The review is available here.


[3] Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (

[4] Ibid., see Chapter 1, Section 1.

[5] The Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 (




Digital Innovation Summit - Economic Crime Tech

UK Finance's flagship technology event, the Digital Innovation Summit, has now begun but you can still register and enjoy all content on demand - the agenda is designed so you can dip in and out when it suits you.

This year the event features a dedicated Economic Crime Tech stream to discuss how the industry can defend our customers and systems from organised crime.

The event is free for members and associate members.

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