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The Rule of Law

Steve Millard, President and Executive Director of Cleveland’s Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) cross-examined me not too long about doing business internationally.  I kick off my answers to Steve’s questions with some thoughts on why the rule of law matters when working internationally in the video above.

Most people, to include lawyers, don’t spend a lot of time thinking about “the rule of law.”

But, if you do business internationally, or you want to do business internationally – you should think about how sturdy “the rule of law” is in the country where you would like to do business.

Here in the United States, thankfully, through most of our history, we have not had to think about the rule of law because it is just there, existing, doing what it is supposed to do. (Caveats: 1. Most of the time. 2. As compared to some other countries.)

As the U.S. Federal Courts explain – here is what the rule of law is:

“[A] principle under which all persons, institutions, and entities are accountable to laws that are:

  • Publicly promulgated
  • Equally enforced
  • Independently adjudicated

And consistent with international human rights principles. See US Courts

For a business operating globally – you may not always encounter a rule of law:

  • You may not be able to figure out what the laws are because the laws may not be public.
  • The organizations or governments you do business with may not be held accountable to the laws, even if the laws exist.
  • Laws may not be equally enforced because corruption may influence business dealings or influence how business disputes are resolved.

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