Article 50 has been triggered and we have begun the marathon slog of negotiations that will see the UK exit the European Union in two years' time. Of course, it's very early days to start speculating about what the final deal will look like, but for businesses which depend heavily on free movement of workers within the EU - such as the hospitality sector - it's time to consider the impact of the various possible outcomes.
British Hospitality Association figures suggest that 15% of workers in the hospitality sector are EU citizens - rising to 40% in London. Replacing these workers with home-grown staff is not a quick or easy task.
Wrestling with such challenges is just one of the issues facing legal advisors in hospitality businesses in 2017. For anyone looking to stay up to speed, CLT's Hospitality Law Conference is a great opportunity to do just that, in the company of your peers. Visit www.clt.co.uk/hospitality for more details.
Changing customer preferences and the pace of technological change, coupled with a challenging economy and currency fluctuations, mean business leaders in the hospitality sector are juggling a range of priorities. Legal advisors in this sector are increasingly expected to act as commercial business partners, as well as expert advisors across a range of legal disciplines, including real estate, corporate and commercial, employment, licensing, health and safety, IP/IT, tax and competition. Lawyers in hospitality businesses certainly have their work cut out!