Business Concerns and International Law
A business that does not intend to take advantage of overseas markets, which together are much larger than the US market, is a business that is not poised for optimal growth. Whether through international partnerships for production, distribution, or intellectual capacity, or because of outsourcing or moving parts of the business to other countries to cut costs, doing business means understanding transnational business and addressing private international law, especially to the extent that other countries’ laws will be applicable to your business. Although international law may cut across many areas of law and borders, an international law firm that understands how to help businesses expand internationally and deal with other countries’ laws and international regulatory requirements is an essential part of the evolution and success of many companies.
Companies need to conduct their international business effectively and manage its risks, as well as protect their intellectual property and technology and minimize the chances of theft and infringement. Doing this requires understanding the laws in any of the countries where a company’s goods and services are accessible or available, understanding the interplay of the laws of these countries and US law (e.g., in such areas as privacy, taxation, antitrust, anti-corruption and intellectual property protection), and understanding how these laws tend to be applied. This is important for everything for negotiating business-to-business contracts to running publicity campaigns to complying with sales and tax regulation. Failure to prioritize this understanding can result in significant losses from increased costs and missed opportunities. International law is complex businesses must comply with multiple levels of state and federal law both in the United States and overseas, as well as with multinational agreements
Another important aspect of international law is understanding the interplay of the laws of different jurisdictions, sometimes called conflicts of law. In a commercial world essentially without borders, especially with respect to ecommerce, understanding which jurisdiction’s law will apply, and trying to ensure that you benefit from the law you would like to govern a transaction or dispute, is critically important. Much effort is put into drafting appropriate governing law, forum and jurisdiction provisions. It is also important to consider in a given country whether you prefer the local courts to resolve a dispute, or a specified body of arbitration. When enforcing a judgment from one country in another country, arbitration often is preferable because of the 1958 United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, sometimes called the New York Convention.
One of the things that sets an effective international law firm apart is its knowledge of the best legal resources and law firms in other countries. A law firm that has professional contacts in other countries can help US companies do business abroad and foreign companies do business in the United States successfully, efficiently and cost-effectively. This is essential for protecting the client’s interests and helping a business expand into new overseas markets.
Any business that doesn’t dedicate part of its budget for international legal issues and concerns is leaving too much to luck and fate. This is true regardless of how well-known the partners or informal the business relationship. International law is more complex than one body of law such as US law, and the pitfalls are therefore much greater for the growing company.