Civil litigation in the U.S. can be an adventure for non-U.S. companies–we are after all, a common law country (not a difference from Ireland or Northern Ireland). Here are some points for Irish/NI companies to keep in mind:
- For many reasons, civil litigation in the U.S. is slower and more expensive than in other places. Some of the reasons: trial by jury; judge-made (“common”) law; 50 different states developing their own laws; discovery, including electronic discovery; motion practice; the “American Rule” of attorney fees, also contingent fee cases, class actions, treble, and punitive damages.
- Cases may take years to get to trial, and then years more to get through appeals.
- You may wish to consider clauses in your contracts to require mediation, or binding arbitration, also venue, and choice of laws. Make sure to have a U.S. law firm review your contracts.
- U.S. product liability law can entangle manufacturers for design defects, manufacturing defects, or failure to adequately warn with regard to the use of a product.
- Make sure you obtain good liability insurance for your business dealings in the United States, and assume that the premiums you pay will be just another of your costs of doing business here.