According to a recent survey, less than 40 percent of U.S. corporate counsel are unable to predetermine the costs of managing business disputes.
And that’s hardly a surprise. It’s difficult to predict exactly how much a given case will cost because of the inherent uncertainties of litigation. However, there are several things that you can do to reduce the expense of a heated court battle.
I mention this because the National Law Journal has an excellent post by attorney Damon Wright on how to keep litigation expenses down. The article, Top 12 Tips for Saving Money in Litigation, is a great read.
While I think the article is right on point for domestic litigation, there are three additional money saving points to consider in the context of international litigation:
1. Determine Jurisdiction Strategy from the Outset. Whether you are a plaintiff or defendant in international litigation, jurisdiction will almost always be the threshold issue. Challenges on grounds of foreign non conveniens can be extremely costly and drag on needlessly.
From the outset, plaintiffs should carefully evaluate whether the chosen forum will hold up to jurisdictional scrutiny. And Defendants, in particular, should assess whether a motion to dismiss on grounds of forum non conveniens is even the best way to go. It’s critical to understand the foreign jurisdiction’s law before your client is stuck there in litigation. An important consideration is whether a defendant can get out of the case on summary judgment. Many foreign jurisdictions do not provide for summary judgment. Therefore, all matters before a court must be tried to conclusion, which may potentially lengthen and increase the cost of proceedings.
2. Utilize Technology to Avoid Unnecessary Travel Expenses. In today’s interconnected world, it’s never been easier to communicate with clients no matter where they’re located. The advent of video conferencing tools such as Skype Video and Apple’s Facetime have made it possible to instantly “meet” with client without the cost and hassle associated with air travel. Collaborative document sharing software and other cloud computing tools have also greatly reduced the need to travel. While nothing can ever replace in-person meetings, costs can be greatly reduced if these resources are used to maximum benefit.
3. Translation of Documents. The cost of document production in domestic litigation can be extremely costly. In international litigation, the cost is multiplied exponentially when documents need to be translated from a foreign language. While one page may run twenty five cents, it is not unusual for a document translator to charge forty cents a word. When you’re tasked with translating thousands of documents, the associated costs can become prohibitive. To minimize costs, it’s a good idea to explore outsourcing the translation to firms located abroad. The savings will be significant and help minimize litigation expenses.
As I’ve described above, expenses associated with international litigation can be minimized with careful consideration of threshold jurisdictional issues, smart use of technology and outsourcing document translation overseas. While every case is different, international litigation expenses can be contained with smart planning and a modicum of resourcefulness.