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Expats face prosecution 

UK Citizens living abroad may be blissfully unaware of the implications of the UK Export Control Act introduced on the 1st of May 2004.

The previous legislation was introduced as a temporary measure in 1939, at the beginning of WWII, before the development of missiles and the internet; it was therefore necessary to update the controls to cover modern business practices and to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

One of the consequences of the new controls is that UK people anywhere in the world are now subject to prosecution if they violate these controls either deliberately or in ignorance.

The main changes relate to:

One aim of the new regulations is to legislate the Arms Trade but in doing so, legitimate companies who deal in military list items are also caught.

UK exports were already subject to control but now, anyone who buys, sells, brokers, receives commission or even promotes trade in military list equipment between other countries requires a licence and, trade to embargoed destinations is prohibited unless in support of peacekeeping forces.

Penalties for non-compliance are unlimited fines and up to 10 years in prison.

First published March 2005, Overseas Trade.

For more information contact Elizabeth Carter.