International Trade: Be Fully Compliant and Avoid Lawsuits!
Who could dislike the title of this post? It promises to solve all your compliance problems and keep your business out of litigation. Were it only that simple.
Of course, it is not. But, when it comes to compliance, there are ways to avoid recurring issues such as high-risk countries, whistleblowers, joint ventures and commercial bribery. For example, companies can identify risk points early and often through the use of risk assessments. You could also set up regular training and anticorruption programs within your organization. Audits to identify and stop corruption on a routine basis are also recommended.
Once you are doing business outside the United States, do you even know which countries have sanctions that stop or limit your business? Most companies are likely aware that if they are doing business directly with North Korea, they have problems. But what about the Ukraine, Belarus, Columbia or the Congo. If your company does not regularly check the current status of economic sanctions around the world, you are a compliance time bomb waiting to happen.
Even if fully compliant, if you are a foreign company doing business in the United States, you want to plan ahead to avoid disputes. First, you want to keep your corporate veil in check. Know the law regarding potential piercing of the corporate veil of the state in which your company is formed and where it does business. Make sure that your U.S. entity is legitimately capitalized and established, and, that it has its own financial books and records. It is an independent company – treat it as such as much as possible.
Once established, pay attention to your contracts. Be aware of the common mistakes made by companies in their contracting process, their contract relationship, and even the termination of the contract. Look at your risk allocation provisions such as warranties, remedies, indemnification and insurance so that you know what your company could be liable for if there is a dispute.