Gary McIndoe
Firm:
Office:
2-4 Loom Street
M4 6AN
City:
Manchester
Country:
England

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Brexit

Gary McIndoe is the founding director of Latitude Law, a boutique immigration law firm headquartered in Manchester and with offices in Liverpool and London. The company celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and has a portfolio of private and corporate clients throughout the UK and internationally. Gary brings more than 20 years’ experience to his role, and is a leading voice on Brexit immigration issues in Manchester and beyond.

WHAT ARE YOUR CLIENTS’ PRIMARY CONCERNS SURROUNDING THE BREXIT PROCESS?

Our clients’ main concerns tend to focus on minimising the impact of the end of free movement for workers. Those that rely upon EU talent want continued, cost-effective access to those candidates, and are relying on the government to agree on a system that is as frictionless as possible.

Clients that recruit from beyond the EU want an immigration system that is fit for purpose, and in particular, won’t come to a standstill as a result of increased demand in the sponsored employment categories.

As we’ve seen with NHS-led applications within Tier 2, the system is very easily tipped out of balance, making it almost impossible for organisations with a genuine need to place any degree of certainty in a successful application.

WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE THE HOME OFFICE’S APPROACH TO CASE ADJUDICATION POSED FOR LAWYERS?

There are a range of issues including ever-present processing delays and extremely onerous documentation requirements, which are predictably time-consuming. In its recent White Paper the government has proposed a sort of “free movement-lite” for skilled EU workers, which – if agreed by the EU-27 – is to be applauded.

HOW DO YOU EXPECT THE GOVERNMENT’S RECENT POLICY ANNOUNCEMENTS TO SHAPE THE IMMIGRATION LANDSCAPE OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS?

Clearly, the new system for managing inbound EU migration is key. Of course, the government hasn’t yet reached an agreement with the EU after 2020. A concern is the UK’s lack of a coherent negotiating position, especially in light of recent upheaval within government.

HOW WILL BREXIT IMPACT UK EMPLOYERS ON A REGIONAL LEVEL?

Brexit is set to have a hugely negative impact on employers that rely largely or entirely upon EU workers.

In the short term, starting salaries are likely to rise as employers struggle to plug the skills gap. However, in the longer term, and particularly as operating costs increase post-Brexit, employers may well cut staffing levels as they try to offset rising costs.

Unfortunately, but predictably, international businesses will simply relocate to Europe where they will find more sympathetic trading conditions.

WHICH INDUSTRIES, IF ANY, DO YOU EXPECT TO BE HIT HARDEST BY CHANGES IN IMMIGRATION POLICY?

It goes without saying that sectors relying heavily upon EU workers will be worst hit; these include academia, catering and hospitality, food preparation, agriculture and meat/fish processing, among many others.

There is also the potential for a knock-on effect on businesses that rely upon the Tier 2 route to source foreign talent beyond Europe’s borders. Major national employers such as the NHS are already starting to feel the burden of reduced EU immigration into the UK; with the government forced to remove NHS applications (among others) from the Tier 2 system as a direct result.

There is, therefore, a double whammy of risks here for domestic industries – the end of free movement causing a serious skills shortage, and a mass move by employers to seek talent through the already strained Tier 2 route.

WITH 3 MILLION EU CITIZENS CURRENTLY LIVING IN THE UK, WHAT PRACTICAL CHALLENGES DOES THIS POSE THE HOME OFFICE, AND HOW DOES THIS IMPACT LAWYERS AND THEIR CLIENTS?

New residence requirements for EU citizens residing in the UK have the potential to create a major new administrative burden for the Home Office. 

The government has confirmed that applications by EU citizens in the UK will be dealt with quickly, and applications will not be turned down for minor inaccuracies. However, there remains the potential for individuals to experience problems with their immigration status. It’s also worthwhile remembering that there is no detail yet around how failed applications will be managed, for example, whether there will any appeal rights.

Practically speaking, until further information is released by the Home Office, it’s difficult to comment on what difficulties will arise in practice. Certainly, we are advising some clients to consider getting their status formalised as soon as possible. There will no doubt be litigation dealing with unexpected issues that arise as the new system settles in.

TO WHAT EXTENT HAS BREXIT ALTERED THE ROLE OF AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER?

The new migration landscape has in recent years moved the immigration lawyer’s role away from one-off distress purchase towards that of a retained business consultant. The advice we give has become less transactional and more advisory in nature, involving increased levels of ongoing support covering internal compliance and risk.

Our corporate clients value our ability to monitor and report upon the government’s moves during the ongoing Brexit negotiations and value regular updates in this respect.

HOW HAS LATITUDE LAW ADAPTED ITS OFFERINGS TO ADDRESS THE MANY CITIZENS’ RIGHTS CHALLENGES SURROUNDING BREXIT?

Over the past two years, our service has evolved to become more advisory and consultative in nature. While we are still very frequently instructed to manage immigration litigation and visa issues, we have started to attract a new type of corporate client – the business or organisation preparing for Brexit.

To this end, one of our strengths has been in developing long-term relationships with these clients, allowing us to become intimately involved in their planning operations, with our team providing detailed consultancy in preparation for the possible outcomes of Brexit.

As well as providing bespoke educational sessions for clients, we have started working in partnership with other firms offering complementary services. This has enabled our clients to take a global view on the challenges and opportunities that may arise from Brexit, and look beyond the immigration perspective.

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Corporate Immigration

Gary has practised UK-inbound immigration, nationality and refugee law for more than 25 years. His first taste of work in his field was at the Home Office, where his role included policy work on the return of Hong Kong to Chinese control in 1997. After training with David Gray and Co in Newcastle-upon-Tyne he returned to his native Manchester and worked in private practice before taking up the directorship of a not-for-profit migration advice centre.

He founded Latitude Law in 2007, with the aim of bringing levels of professionalism and expertise associated with City practice to the English regions. The firm has grown steadily since then, and currently has a 10-strong legal team undertaking a full range of immigration work. It has recognised expertise in guiding businesses and educational institutions – which include prominent northern Universities - through sponsor licensing and related regulatory processes. It is also noted for its work with entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals.

Latitude continues to take on complex asylum work, and has achieved hard-won success with Russian and Bahraini clients in recent years. Gary and his team have also developed strong links with exceptionally talented individuals in a burgeoning regional tech sector that is a driving force behind the UK’s Northern Powerhouse. The firm has satellite offices in Liverpool and London, and maintains its growth in order to meet the needs of its corporate and private clients.

Gary has been a high-profile commentator on the UK’s Brexit negotiations, speaking at business events and writing numerous articles for publication, and was a contributor to Doing Business After Brexit (Bloomsbury, 2017). He is an AILA international associate, and in his spare time enjoys road cycling and walking the family’s Jack Russell terrier.  

WWL says: The "excellent" Gary McIndoe boasts a strong immigration practice and comes highly regarded for his work in the space.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Corporate Immigration which can be purchased from our Shop.

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