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Export control sanctions

Export control and sanctions

Compliance with export control and sanctions is often overlooked by companies when exporting. However, the consequences of getting it wrong and being caught without the requisite export licence(s) can potentially prove costly. In the UK the penalties are particularly severe: unlimited fines and up to 10 years in prison. Equally important, is the potential impact on your business in terms of loss of reputation, contractual penalties and logistical problems. As such, it is essential that companies understand their export control and sanctions responsibilities, both nationally and internationally.

Our lawyers have appropriate technical backgrounds and regularly advise clients on export issues in the following sectors: IT, telecommunications, aerospace & defence, industrial engineering, chemical, oil & gas, and pharmaceutical.

At Eversheds Sutherland we recognise that not all client requirements are the same and we promise to build our team around your needs. We can provide a single point of contact for global compliance and dispute resolution, to ensure consistency of approach or we can connect you to individuals across the business internationally so that you can approach them directly on specific issues. We also understand that particular situations may require sensitive or classified issues to be disclosed only to nationals within the same country.

We have a strong track record in assisting clients around the world in complying with export control, sanctions and indeed, import laws.

What we can do for you

We can assist you on matters ranging from:

  • conducting company audits to establish whether or not the company is generally compliant with export control and sanctions laws.
  • conducting internal investigations relating to alleged infringements of export control or sanctions laws.
  • confirming which transactions are likely to require licences or other approvals and assisting you to obtain such licences or approvals.
  • assisting you in improving your processes to increase success rates in licence applications.
  • conducting due diligence and drafting appropriate warranties and indemnities in corporate transactions.
  • advising on the export of military and “dual-use” items.
  • advising on which sanctions may apply to your particular transactions.
  • preparing voluntary disclosure and engaging with relevant regulatory agencies in respect of potential infringements of applicable laws.
  • representing clients in front of international courts and tribunals.
  • providing tailored seminars and training sessions on export control and sanctions laws and
  • developing or improving export control and sanctions compliance programs.


Examples of our experience include:

  • advising one of the world’s largest aviation businesses on compliance with EU and Member State specific export control legislation and in respect of the export of specific military and dual-use items. 
  • advising a Chinese telecommunications manufacturer in connection with European import and export requirements for telecommunications equipment.
  • acting for an institution linked to the Brazilian Federal State responsible for promoting and enhancing Brazilian exports and investment in connection with export and other trade control matters concerning their Portuguese distribution centre.
  • actively involved in a criminal investigation by HMRC in relation to suspected infringements of EU and UK export control laws.
  • assisting a global brand name with turnover of $70 billion concerning an unlawful export, using voluntary disclosure to have the matter closed without prosecution.
  • undertaking a multi-country confidential internal investigation for a US company with a turnover of $10 billion in relation to unlawful exports to Iran. 
  • advising three of the world’s largest aerospace and defence manufacturers in connection with the import of weapons systems into particular Member States of the European Union. 
  • advising numerous FTSE 100 and 250 companies on general compliance with export control and sanctions laws.
  • created a cutting edge and highly innovative computer based learning “toolkit” on export control and sanctions which we are in the process of rolling out for a Fortune 200 company to be undertaken by in excess of 15,000 employees.
  • successfully obtained a number of formal authorisations for export of (and payment for) humanitarian and medicinal supplies into Iran.

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