Considered perhaps to be the playground of the multi-national organisation, the internet has shown us that we are all world traders to some extent or other. The current state of the economy means that businesses, and consumers, are more likely to widen their search for trade and opportunities. Recognising this and the issues created by the different legal systems within the European Union, the European Commission has set up an Expert Group to study the feasibility of a user-friendly European Contract Law.
The Commission’s aim is to enable citizens to take full advantage of the internal market within the European Union. Currently it is perceived that disadvantages exist due to the differences between the laws of the member nations which can create additional costs and legal issues when trading across different legal systems.
At one end of the scale, a trader might be concerned to know whether his normal terms and conditions for the supply of goods are enforceable in the country to which he is exporting them. This has resulted in traders refusing to supply customers in countries other than their own. At the other, the purchaser of a new factory and business in a different country to their own will require to be satisfied on the legal framework applying to the new business and any ramifications which may differ from the regime to which the purchaser is otherwise accustomed.
The Commission have published a Green Paper setting out their policy options for consultation in making progress towards a European Contract Law for consumers and businesses. It recognises that the result should not introduce additional burdens or complications for consumers or businesses whilst ensuring a high level of consumer protection. One option might be a non-binding statement of the work of the Expert Group which could be consulted either by law-makers when considering new legislation or businesses when preparing terms and conditions. At the other end of the spectrum is the option of a Directive on European Contract Law with a view to harmonising national contract law on the basis of minimum common standards.
The Commission will be evaluating the results of the consultation following on the Green Paper and could propose further action by 2012.
Meantime, commerce carries on and on an ever-increasingly global basis. Through its membership of Mackrell International, bto is in regular contact with legal firms around the world. We work with these firms, both for their clients from other jurisdictions with interests in Scotland, as well as our own clients and their global interests. If you wish to discuss your global business with us, give us a call.