If the UK leaves the EU then it seems likely that it will seek to increase its trade links with the rest of the world. International trade is an important means of wealth creation for a nation and of cementing good relationships between nations and peoples.
From the commercial barrister’s perspective international trade carries with it some challenging issues and consequences. A contract may be written in one language but the law which decides how it is interpreted may be that of a different country with a different language. Moreover because one of the parties is English does not mean that an English court would be entitled to determined what should happen if there is a dispute between the parties.
There are various rules, treaties and conventions which determined how disputes in cross-border agreements are resolved. Sometimes there are specific tribunals or courts which are empowered to do this. On other occasions it is left to national courts to determine disputes based upon interpretations specific to the form of agreement or activity. For example in international travel by air the Montreal Convention contains provisions allocating liability and the level of compensation payable between the carrier and the passenger but it is left to each national court to seek to follow specific or “autonomous” meanings to be attributed to the Convention and contracts made subject to it. There are similar rules governing international trade by sea.
On occasion it may not be clear what law governs the interpretation of a contract or the resolution of a dispute arising under it. Equally important is determining whether an English or a foreign court (or sometimes either) has the jurisdiction to decide any dispute.
Any business considering entering into a trading arrangement with a foreign company should seek early advice from a commercial barrister as to the legal consequences and best ways of protecting its interests.
Whereas the position with regard to trade within the EU is comparatively straightforward the same cannot be said about countries outside it. Very often is it necessary to consult a lawyer in the other jurisdiction as well as here in order to understand the complete picture. At Cerulean our commercial barristers maintain links with foreign lawyers across the globe in order to provide advice which can be trusted speedily and effectively.