International Trade Law
The traditional focus on the mid-sized sector has a very special meaning for all Ahlers & Vogel office locations. In German seaports and the North German region, medium-sized businesses are very strongly influenced by international trade activities.
The completion of international operations not only means the import and export of goods – but also entry into another jurisdiction. Those who wish to be safe from unpleasant surprises, should ensure in advance that all of their contracts involving foreign countries are legally watertight.
The experts from the Ahlers & Vogel “International Trade Team” in Bremen, Hamburg and Leer can provide you with comprehensive, competent and practical advice. We can help with all key issues regarding a risk-based, legally compliant design, completion and settlement of international transactions including payment protection. If required to do so, our team will happily undertake contract management and enforcement of receivables; particularly abroad.
Ahlers & Vogel is a founding member of Green Lane, The Alliance of European Customs and Trade Law Firms. This unique cooperation of independent European law firms, specialized in customs and international trade law, presently covering Brussels, 13 EU member states, as well as Brazil, Israel and the US enables us to provide clients a comprehensive solution for customs and international trade law services across the European continent.
Since 2000, Ahlers & Vogel has been a member of MSI Global Alliance, an international association of Independent Law and accounting firms.
Beyond Green Lane and MSI Global Alliance, Ahlers & Vogel maintains a close, personal network of renowned foreign lawyers and international institutions; a position that enables us to provide and support you with any necessary legal advice abroad on-site.
International Contracts of Sale are the basis of the import and export business. Considerable differences between German and International Law have always made it difficult to establish a contract with legally-secure content in all respects. The conclusion of the contract itself, as well as the effective inclusion of general terms and conditions, can often be complicated in international business. The correct contractual language and knowledge of the legal implications of certain clauses are, therefore, just as important as the knowledge of international legal rules (e.g. the UN Sales Convention (CISG), the Rome I Regulation, Brussels Ia Regulation), which are applicable to the respective business. The UN Sales Convention is applicable to a large part of international sales contracts. Therefore, in the import and export business, it is often very useful not to exclude the application of the UN Sales Convention in favour of (a usually less transparent) legal order. From experience, we know that this is often disadvantageous. Our “International Trade Team” has many years of extensive practical expertise working with these claims.
These clauses can frequently become a standard part of contract clauses. This concerns the employment of international standard delivery conditions (for example, the Incoterms of the International Chamber of Commerce) for the agreement on worldwide common terms of payment (the issuing of letters of credit or bank guarantees, etc.), or – often underestimated and error-prone in their meaning – arbitration clauses in case a legal dispute should arise in the course of business. Ahlers & Vogel provides practical advice, enabling you to implement and enforce the international contract clause most appropriate for your business.
International Finance is an important and central issue for any company operating in the field of foreign trade. Financing includes all measures from procurement to repayment of the financial resources, as well as the associated organisation of payment, control and security relations between companies and investors.
To ensure the smooth implementation and the handling of financing, securities and payment methods in foreign trade not only the skilled drafting of appropriate contract clauses but also practical knowledge is crucial. This for example relates to the selection of the appropriate letter of credit conditions in the underlying sales contract as well as experience in the application and management of documentary letters of credit.
Foreign risks can often mean that, despite a good contract, claims cannot be realised abroad. Country, debtor and currency risks must be detected and analysed prior to the conclusion of the contract, so that the risks can be limited in an appropriate manner as far as possible or be completely excluded before the contract is concluded.
The Ahlers & Vogel “International Trade Team” offers a detailed consultation on all important aspects of risk management in international business and the exclusion of identified risks with a practical solution (such as in banking or insurance instruments) before signing the contract – all in addition to the contract design.
As well as a wealth of other regulatory frameworks, customs regulations and export control influence foreign trade to a considerable extent: Customs procedures, customs tariff and customs valuation, import duties, import prohibitions and restrictions, anti-dumping, excise, export control, and financial transactions, to name just a few. Ahlers & Vogel is one of the few law firms that has advised and represented their clients in this complex area of law for many years; whether it’s providing preventive and compliance advice, in handling disputes with customs authorities and other institutions or in the context of criminal investigations and prosecution.
VAT in connection with export deliveries, intra-community acquisitions and deliveries, as well as cross-border chain transactions, encompasses a steadily increasing potential for risks. Consequently, VAT is an area where Ahlers & Vogel continues to guide clients through when advising and representing trade and logistics enterprises.
This covers all facets of transport on land, at sea and in the air. In addition to the traditional freight forwarding, carriage by land or sea, this also includes the areas of multimodal transport, warehousing, stowage, cargo handling and logistics. It is not always easy to choose the right transport for the underlying business and also ensure legally watertight arrangements.
Ahlers & Vogel will advise you not only in the drafting of transport or other freight contracts and the associated documents and provide support when problems occur during transport, but will also provide support in the handling of any claims for damage to or loss of goods.
The manufacturer of products or parts thereof, and also the importer, the exporter into an EU Member State, the supplier or the so-called “quasi manufacturer”, are often subject to product liability claims if a defective product causes damage to items and/or injury to persons. Knowledge of German, European and International Product Liability Law is required here in order to avoid unsubstantiated or minimise justified claims. Here also, the specifics regarding an existing product liability insurance have to be considered. Those who only consider such a liability when it occurs, risk ending up uninsured. Ahlers & Vogel’s specialists will also advise you in this area, both ahead of time, during risk analysis and the selection of insurance coverage, as well as in the expert defence of claims, with economic judgement and a keen sense of practicality.