Litigation: What you do—and don’t—know about your company’s foreign activities can hurt you

Arbitration clauses, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and bilateral investment treaties are all things to consider for companies doing business abroad

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman first said “the world is flat,” and it’s getting flatter. U.S. companies are more and more reliant on a globalized business environment that is both outward- and inward-facing. On one hand, companies depend on foreign sales to boost the bottom line; on the other, companies seek to gain great returns on investment by working with manufacturers and service-providers abroad. Too often, however, a fast-paced global business model can outrun a careful consideration of the legal implications such foreign activities can have on a company. The recent press is replete with noteworthy examples of what can happen when companies don’t have enough information about their foreign business practices. With that in mind, there are several issues that in-house counsel should be aware of when it comes to international activities.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

Those who negotiate multinational contracts must thus take care to consider the impact of forum-selection and arbitration clauses. Neglecting the consequences of those clauses could result in a loss of the jurisdictional advantages that U.S. courts may provide and force disputes to be litigated in what may be unwelcoming foreign venues.

Bilateral investment treaties

Contributing Author

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Jan Conlin

Jan M. Conlin is a partner at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. and chairs the business litigation practice. She serves as trial counsel for...

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Contributing Author

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Andrew Pieper

Andrew J. Pieper is an attorney at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. and practices in complex business litigation.

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