could be critical
SMITH LEGAL is an international law firm made up of multi-lingual lawyers and other professionals from around the world. The firm has broad experience in providing global transactional business advice, resolving international commercial disputes, avoiding and
defending international civil and criminal product liability clains, and managing domestic and
multi-national recall actions and catastrophic events.
Using proven, battle-tested methods, SMITH LEGAL regularly provides its clients with the following cost-effective services:
- INTERNATIONAL PRODUCT DEFENSE
- WARRANTY LITIGATION & RECALL MANAGEMENT
- GLOBAL REGULATORY COMPLIANCE ADVICE
- DOCUMENT RETENTION & DESTRUCTION POLICY DEVELOPMENT
- PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, WARNINGS & MARKETING MATERIAL ANALYSIS ADVICE
- GOVERNMENT RELATIONS & LOBBYING
- SUPPLY, DISTRIBUTION & INSURANCE CONTRACT REVIEW
- COMPLEX ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
International Product Defense Coordination
We specialize in multi-jurisdictional, cross-border product liability claim handling and supervision, discovery management and global defense coordination with an emphasis on the worldwide harmonization of legal and factual issues and the protection of privileged and confidential business information.
SMITH LEGAL has assisted clients in defending civil and criminal product-related personal injury and property claims in over 85 different countries and sovergn territories. As a result, we are deeply experienced with every facet of international factual investigation as well as all formal treaties and other multi-nation agreements dealing with international service of process issues, cross-border discovery and information gathering, arbitration and mediation, and enforcement of foreign judgment laws.
SMITH LEGAL also has an established and proven global legal and technical defense network to assist us „on the ground“ around the world.
From small product quality disputes, warranty claims, multi-fatality product catastrophes to high-profile criminal and government product defect investigations, SMITH LEGAL‘s multi-lingual lawyers have seen it all before - giving us the „real world“, multicultural sensitivities and firsthand experience to know exactly what it will take to get the job done.
Warranty Litigation & Claims Management
All products are sold with both written and legally implied warranties regarding various subjects, including quality, longevity and performance. The world‘s warranty laws (also called „lemon laws“) vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. As such, the legal duties – and potential liabilities - that these express and implicit guarantees impose on a product maker also vary greatly country-by-country or even state-by-state. Much more common in number than product liability claims – and often laced with potential recall implications – warranty cases and claims pose a very serious and financial challenge.
SMITH LEGAL‘s lawyers have successfully handled thousands of difficult warranty matters around the world. To avoid such claims to the maximum extend possible, SMITH LEGAL provides clients with proactive, preventative advice addressing how, when, where and in exactly what form express product warranties should be provided.
However, despite a solid preventative approach, some warranty claims and lawsuits are inevitable. In such cases, SMITH LEGAL routinely provides its clients global, regional or national product warranty
Global Regulatory Compliance Advice & Recall Support
We provide clients with hands-on process evaluation, training and advice regarding the ever-changing sea of national and international government rules effecting product designers, manufacturers and distributors. Our lawyers routinely give preventative mulit-lingual product liability (in-house) training, and are also frequently called upon to give regulatory advice related to product certification, environmental laws and aftersales warranty and recall issues - including the U.S. TREAD Act, China’s new Auto Recall how, and similar laws in other countries.
Document Retention & Destruction Policy Development
We assist clients in creating and implementing company document management programs - on a facility-by-facility basis, or as part of a company-wide solution. Using best practices when developing such programs is now critical, given the world‘s rapidly developing electronic discovery and disclosure laws („e-Discovery“).
With particular emphasis on the creation and storage of searchable and retrievable information on electronic media, SMITH LEGAL employs state-of-the-art selection and repository methods which take into account not only current laws and industry guidelines such as ISO, but that also consider the equally importantly realities of each client‘s actual business models, methods and culture.
Product Development Warnings & Marketing MATERIAL ANALYSIS
Even the best designed products ultimately face product liability scrutiny somewhere - often based on inaccurate consumer expectations about how a product can or should perform in the „real world“. SMITH LEGAL can help minimize these risks throughout the entire product development and sale process.
Our approach emphasizes the creation of clear internal analysis, testing and compliance records, the development of precise, useful and culture-sensitive product warnings and end-user information in all necessary languages, and the careful review of operator manuals and marketing materials to ensure consumers are given all the safety-relevant information they need to form accurate, truthful and realistic product expectations.
Government Relations & Lobbying
Product liability law is in its infancy. As a result, interested parties have the opportunity to shape the law through not just court cases, but also interaction with the various national and international agencies and bodies charged with the responsibility of developing, codifying, implementing and/or enforcing the world‘s freshly-minted or currently underdeveloped product laws. Especially in the rapidly emerging area of global product recall law, knowing who the local players are, what their competing interests and cultural biases might be, and what could ultimately influence their decision-making are all key things one needs to succeed.
SMITH LEGAL has this crucial information, as we not only witnessed the birth of these laws internationally – we know their parents and relatives and, in some cases, we even helped raise some of them during very formative periods of their young lives.
Supply, Distribution & Insurance Contract Review
Having the right contracts in place before a product liability issue arises is also a critical part of any product liability defense. Supply and distribution contracts provide a great opportunity for all parties throughout the product chain to establish with clear language exactly who is responsible for what in the event that someone claims a product is defective. This is particularly true in industries covered by mandatory government product defect, death and injury claim disclosure laws, such as the U.S. TREAD law in the auto and tire business. Equally important is having proper and adequate product liability insurance coverage.
SMITH LEGAL‘s lawyers understand the ins and outs of the liability insurance industry very well, as we have represented both carriers and insured’s alike. Our focus is to work with companies to improve their product liability procedures and methods - and to rightfully present those changes to insurers as corporate risk minimization results that justify client-favorable policies and premiums.
Complex Alternative Dispute Resolution
Getting people from different parts of the world to agree on anything is difficult - especially in the heated context of litigation. We know this difficulty first hand, as a result of our own extremely diverse political, multi-national, multiethnic and multi-cultural backgrounds. However, we also know that reaching a good compromise is usually in everyone‘s interest and in some cases can be the most cost-effective resolution method.
Our lawyers are exceptionally skilled and experienced in resolving complex international disputes out of court. Using one of several alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, such as voluntary mediation or binding arbitration, we have settled many incredibly contentious matters between seemingly deadlocked parties from all around the globe. We have the additional depth of wisdom gained from not only representing clients in ADR processes, but we have also acted as the mediators and arbitrators overseeing these settlement attempts.
So, if you or your company are involved in an international dispute - in or out of the judicial system - and a reasonable compromise of the problem has eluded the parties, give us a call. A fresh look at the matter by an experienced, culturally-aware SMITH LEGAL lawyer might be just what is needed to bring everyone together.