When do you need an international lawyer?

 

By Rosie Given

I often speak to clients who for one reason or another have been faced with the necessity for an international lawyer. This can come in the form of personal legal matters, such as wills and conveyancing, or commercial matters, for example international copyrights or contracts with companies overseas.

Personal

Many clients have bought property overseas, either for investment purposes or perhaps retirement homes, and will require a solicitor in that jurisdiction to complete the conveyancing work. For this you will need a specialist solicitor working in that country. It is not as difficult as it may seem at the outset. In fact, many solicitors overseas will have an English-speaker who can help, and many solicitors based in the UK have international contacts. Clients I speak to also plan to make provisions for these international properties in their will. As such, later down the line, the beneficiaries of these will also require international assistance. This of course brings with it new tax implications, based on the current laws of that country, and may affect your own tax liabilities within the UK.

Commercial

With the increase in international trade amongst the EU countries and worldwide, many clients find themselves needing an international solicitor to help with some aspect of the running of their business. For example, it is becoming more commonplace to import goods from China to sell on in the UK. Entering into an agreement with a Chinese company may require a specialist in that jurisdiction to advise on the distinctions between the two laws and to help with the translation between parties. Other clients I have spoken to have required an international lawyer to help with protecting their inventions in other countries, which requires a specialist patent attorney who has expertise in how this applies internationally.

What many people do not realise is that for most legal issues involving an international element, UK solicitors will not be qualified, or insured, to advise on international law. You will in fact need a qualified solicitor for that jurisdiction, or a solicitor based in the country where the legal issue lies.

Rosie Given is one of Caven’s most knowledgeable case handlers with extensive experience in this matter from dealing with clients on a day-to-day basis.

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