As readers of this blog will be aware, the UK introduced restrictions on the provision of certain trust services to Russian, or Russia-connected recipients in December 2022. Those restrictions apply in respect of services provided to or for the benefit of (i) a designated person, or (ii) a person connected with Russia. For these purposes, "designated person" refers to a person specifically designated for the purposes of the trusts restrictions, rather than any target of the UK's asset freeze. The relevant restrictions are set out in Regulation 18C of the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 as amended (the "Regulations") and are summarised in our previous post.

On 21 March, the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation ("OFSI") announced that all 1,730 targets of the UK's Russia-related asset freeze have also been designated for the purposes of the trusts restrictions.

OFSI have issued a General Licence (GL INT/2023/2589788) which permits activity necessary to terminate an arrangement with a designated person for a period of 90 days, starting from the period on which the relevant designated person was designated for the purposes of Regulation 18C. Importantly, the new General Licence does not authorise any activity which would be a breach of the asset freeze and is not applicable to the provision of trust services to persons connected with Russia who are not designated persons. Any person wishing to rely on the General Licence must also comply with a requirement to report activity to OFSI within 30 days using the prescribed form (which can be found here).

OFSI have also published a blog in relation to this development and updated their Russia guidance to include further information on the wind-down General Licence referred to above. The amended guidance also contains new FAQs on the trusts services restrictions dealing with: (i) their interaction with the professional and business services restrictions (which are contained in Regulation 54C of the Regulations); (ii) their interaction with the asset freeze; and (iii) the types of activities that should be covered in any report to OFSI under the new General Licence.

Also on the topic of Russia services restrictions, we note that two separate actions have been brought by Member State bar associations before the European Court of Justice to challenge the EU's restrictions on the provision of legal advisory services. The challenges have been brought by the ordre néerlandais des avocats du barreau de Bruxelles in Belgium and the ordre des avocats à la cour de Paris in France.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.