One of the main problems with doing business across international frontiers, particularly online business, is that of international litigation, given that it can be hard to exercise rights in a foreign jurisdiction. It is perhaps one of the biggest dangers with contracting internationally that in the event of dispute, both parties claim their law is trump, which causes some obvious problems as they struggle towards an amicable outcome. However, there are many ways around this situation for the savvy internet lawyer, including the widely used choice of law clause and the mutual arbitration or adjudication, which can help bypass this situation. In this article we will look at a practical approach to tackling online litigation, and the ways in which a party can look to resolve problems across national frontiers.
Initially, good dispute resolution begins with prevention, which means good and effective drafting of the contract. Before transacting with anyone online, it is essential that you are fully aware of their terms and conditions of service and ensure you clarify anything you'd like to see in the contract. If your proposals aren't accepted, you're far better to avoid transacting to avoid problems, particularly where substantial money is at stake. Alternatively, if you are drafting an agreement from scratch it is imperative that you decide mutually on the terms, particularly what is known as the choice of law clause. Choice of law refers to a particular designation in the contractual terms which stipulates that in the event of a dispute, both parties submit to an exclusive jurisdiction. This is usually to the favour of the seller's knowledge, although may even be a neutral jurisdiction to avoid perceived bias. Provided that the choice of law is stipulated in advance, it is a particularly effective way of ensuring disputes are properly resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.
Another highly effective way to tackle online litigation is to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of some online adjudication service in the terms and conditions. This involves a third party, usually a totally independent party, which is designed to regulate and prevent bias or unfavourable outcomes. This eventually leads to a definite ruling one way or the other, which is helpful in ensuring no-one feels hard done to, and generally that justice is done. Again, this is all down to the agreement and the way in which it is drafted. By good drafting, many of the problems of litigation can be weeded out before they arise, leading to a more fluid and resolved business relationship in general.
In addition to contractual disputes, much of international litigation is taking shape online, as more and more parties find problems in dealing with those outwith their own boundary lines. Primarily, the issues of copyright and information theft are being thrust to the fore, as issues that strike to the very core of business online. Through establishing more regulatory online framework, it is possible, and indeed encouraged, for more efforts to be injected in regulating the way in which most of our business is conducted. In the coming years, there will likely be much development in Internet law, particularly of a trans-national ilk, which will have a natural knock on effect on offline litigation to the benefit of business and trade.
Online litigation has risen to the forefront of legal thinking in recent years with the rise of the Internet. As business becomes naturally more global, it is important to consider how disputes can be resolved, and indeed how this will pan out in the future. There are suggestions of further developments of voluntary online courts, which will hear cases and establish a code of ethics, and this can only be good news for those parties feeling aggrieved by the system. With each transaction, the Internet is becoming a more stable environment in which to conduct business, and a more regulated forum for marketing and commerce.