Trouble with a producer in a CEE land? Unclear text and foreign law always favor the domestic producer.
But there are tips and tricks that can help, even in the middle of a dispute. We deal with tough cases; we know the local courts. Intimately. We work with arbitration. And we love it.
1. When the sun is shining and everybody is happy
It is a paradox, but this is the time to think about a possible dispute. There are approaches that can help to mitigate a dispute in a foreign land before it happens. Obviously, a buyer can agree to apply the buyers law on the contract. Also, B2B contracts are usually arbitrable, so choosing a reputable arbitration court should be advantageous. Be assured, dodging a foreign court could be priceless. However, do not forget to check if your contract is also arbitrable under the local law and therefore, you will not have trouble enforcing the arbitration award locally.
Please, do not forget to attach your general terms to the signed contract. A simple cross-reference to a web page with the general terms might not suffice under some CEE laws. If you have no general terms, prepare them. We can help you with that, too. And do not forget to limit your liability.
2. When there are dark clouds on the horizon
This is the time for your local lawyer in CEE. We can negotiate the potential dispute. Speaking from experience, more than half of the disputes are negotiable. Producers in CEE do not usually like court processes. They often will accept a proposed settlement, even if less than advantageous for them. We recommend writing it down and preparing the written settlement in a way that is enforceable.
3. The legal storm and legal help with disputes in CEE
In case your (ex)business partner/producer did not settle and you are in a middle of a lawsuit, heads up. Check if you have a counterclaim. The counterclaim can be raised during a lawsuit, but there are other possibilities, too. For example, in some cases, it is possible to file the counterclaim as a separate claim in another EU member state, e.g. when the claimant is from a different EU country. In such instance, you can choose witch EU court will decide this part of the lawsuit (forum shopping). This might be of advantage, since a different judge in a different EU country will hear this part of the case.
Also, if you are a provider you might have a subcontractor. From a legal point of view, you might be able to include a subcontractor in some lawsuits. This can be done in the main lawsuit or a separate lawsuit can be initiated.
All in all, you need an experienced international lawyer that is specialized in disputes in CEE from the beginning till the end of your doing business in CEE.