HOW MUCH DO YOU REALLY KNOW ABOUT YOUR SUPPLIER/DISTRIBUTOR/PARTNER?
It’s common sense to get expert legal advice when you’re embarking on an international business venture, and our clients understand that.
At the same time, we hear stories every day that would freeze your blood. And unfortunately, we hear many of those stories from individuals and companies that come to us much later than they should have. They come asking us to fix problems they could have prevented, and though some of their problems are legal, many result from their not having done even the most basic due diligence on their foreign counter-parties.
Linguistic and logistical barriers make it harder to conduct due diligence halfway around the world, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Especially if your future supplier, distributor, or partner is a bad actor relying on those barriers to take advantage of you.
Know What You Are Getting Into
Everyone embarking on an international business venture needs to know:
- Are these people part of a real company?
- Do they have the facilities (e.g. factories, showrooms, retail outlets, online sales platforms) they claim to have?
- Do they actually make stuff (e.g. a company that claims to have a 20% market share for widgets in Asia should have verifiable large manufacturing facilities, probably in more than one city)?
- Are they as large and/or established as they say (e.g. do they actually have 10 offices across Mexico)?
- Do they actually do business with the companies they claim (e.g. if they claim to do business with Disney, can they show proof)?
- Do they have a record of suing other companies, of having been sued, or have they regularly defaulted on previous agreements?
- Are they legally permitted to conduct the business they are agreeing to do with you (e.g. in many countries, businesses can legally engage in only the business for which they are actually licensed)?
And so on.
There are no guarantees in life, but as the old Russian saying goes, “Trust, but verify.”
And verify before you invest months in discussions about a joint venture that resulted from a conversation you had with a neighbor who “works with a company in Shenzhen” that would be the perfect partner to help manufacture widgets at much lower cost than you pay now.
We have experience with literally hundreds of companies that wish they had done more due diligence before getting into bed with their overseas partner. This experience has led us to develop ways to help companies before they get into trouble.
Get a Detailed Report
We have been providing due diligence company reports to our clients for more than a decade, charging on an hourly basis (as is normal in the legal profession). But as demand for thorough background investigations has increased, we decided to create a separate fixed-price service to reduce client costs and provide budgeting certainty.
This new service stands outside the framework of the normal attorney-client relationship and provides in-depth foreign company due diligence in almost all cases within 48 hours based on research undertaken within that 48 hour period. We will not give you information that might be months or years old; we’re starting from scratch when you give us the company name and the green light. And if you should ever need a report within 24 hours, we can do that too, for a small additional fee.
Our background investigations typically give critical information about foreign company assets, ownership, intellectual property, registered litigation history, authorized scope of business, and tax standing. Our reports also flag derogatory information, such as lawsuits, penalties, and fines, which can often reveal more than balance sheets – they can show a company at odds with its own government or with its prior business partners.
Our reports provide the background information needed to make confident decisions and support negotiating stances early in the process to help you negotiate a strong relationship from the start.