If you receive email from Fondia, you may have noticed the logo ‘GGI’ as part of our signature. The logo is small, but it stands for a big thing: Fondia is part of an alliance network called Geneva Group International (GGI), which brings together carefully selected experts from across the world who are leaders in the fields of law, taxation and auditing.
I took part in GGI’s European meeting last month. There, hundreds of lawyers, auditors and accountants from all over Europe and other continents met colleagues and exchanged ideas. One theme rose above the rest: our world is currently not as rosy as you may be lulled into thinking while munching on croissants in a sunny congress hotel in Warsaw. Key speakers of the meeting, Poland’s former Prime Minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz and internationally recognised financial adviser Nenad Paceck, discussed changes that have taken place over the last few years in Europe such as optimistic economic growth turning into recession and the rise of populism, as well as other complex economic and political interdependencies that affect our lives. A surprising rise in oil prices or a persistent low level will at some point be reflected in the pocket of every Tom, Dick and Harry.
The Brits will soon vote on Brexit, and across the pond, a potential presidential candidate says he will build walls and withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The reintroduction of border controls in other countries is also seen as a response to the evil outside world. At the same time, however, it’s worth remembering that, as an English poet of the early 1600s said, “no man is an island”. Similarly, only a few companies can operate alone inside their own country. Indeed, many Finnish companies operate independently on international markets, and even those that see themselves as more domestic businesses face international aspects of business all the time. Business is going digital, the geographical location of the contractual partner is secondary, and the supply and service chains are changing.
Even if the contractual partner itself is Finnish, more and more often there may be a foreign owner in the background, whose general contracting conditions the domestic operator is faced with. Such conditions are difficult to renegotiate. For example, they may mention that the law of the parent company’s country will be applied to all contracts, even if the contract activity in question would only take place in Finland. The further you go from Europe, the more attention should be paid to under which law the contract is applicable – even familiar clauses can get interpreted differently in another environment. In the current turbulent state of the world, special attention should be paid to the force majeure clause on unforeseeable circumstances, for instance. This clause in contracts is often perceived as an unambiguous ‘irresistible force or unforeseen event’, but the truth is that it’s quite ambiguous and should always be specified separately.
In such a reality, international collaboration in different fields – even in the legal sector – is very important and the importance of networks such as GGI is growing. For example, if Fondia’s client’s contract needs to be examined, say, in terms of the laws of Paraguay, we can now turn to a local law firm that is part of the GGI network. Our confidence grows, as we know that the firm in question meets the strict quality criteria of the network.
Trade is what keeps us afloat, so why not take advantage of the opportunities offered by the global market and international collaboration. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so before moving to the big leagues, make sure you know your partner and collaborate with them using the same clear rules.