Services

Business Enabling Environment

The National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade (the “Center”) was founded on the principle that “law is about people” and that commercial law should create an environment in which micro, small and medium-sized businesses thrive. The Center has worked on a wide range of projects designed to improve the business enabling environment of developing countries. Our work includes teaming with various Latin American countries to facilitate the adoption by the Organization of American States (OAS) of a model simplified corporations law that allows small businesses to reap the benefits of incorporation through a simple, online and inexpensive process. In the banking sector, the Center worked with Canadian and Mexican bankers to draft best practices for:

  1. the collection and clearing of checks in the NAFTA region;
  2. the examination of letter of credit documents;
  3. the land shipment of goods in the NAFTA region;
  4. creating a paper-based and electronic uniform invoice and;
  5. “through” truck bills of lading.

The Center also participated in the drafting of harmonized customs documents, helping U.S. and Mexican customs create procedures to prevent the transshipment of pirated and counterfeit goods.

Business Enabling Environment Sample Projects

  • Conducted a commercial law assessment of the CAFTA countries using USAID BizCLIR indicators;
  • Wrote various banking transparency and disclosure best practices and regulations for the Treasury departments of the United States, Chile, Mexico and Brazil with the participation of the International Monetary Fund;
  • Drafted the Inter-American Rules on Electronic Documents and Signatures (IAREDS);
  • Analyzed the effect of product liability laws for a major law firm that represents exporters of goods and services to Latin America;
  • Prepared an analysis of intellectual property protection in the NAFTA region;
  • Recommended changes to the fair competition law and policy in Mexico;
  • Created guidelines and training for alternative dispute resolution in private commercial disputes in the banking area

Consulting

Through our consulting services, the Center empowers business people to make well- informed decisions in unfamiliar markets.Even the best legal counsel may not have the depth of expertise a business needs in order to structure an asset based loan, perfect a security interest, or to search or record a lien in a new online registry in countries like Mexico, Ghana or Honduras. The Center can bring clarity to the process. We provide consulting services to answer the specific questions of business people and their lawyers and to help them to understand the options available under the relevant commercial laws in many developing countries. In the countries in which we have worked, we have a deep understanding of their commercial legal systems, especially their secured transactions legal regimes and registries. Because of our participation as experts in the United Nations Committee on International Trade Law, the Organization of American States and other multi-lateral institutions, we have helped to shape the commercial contract and secured transactions law of many of nations around the world.The Center is not a law firm nor do we offer legal advice. We are a research institution with excellent research skills and deep knowledge in commercial and trade law matters. Our research can be an invaluable supplement to the legal advice of a lawyer or legal team. Our consulting services are billed on an hourly basis. Based on the problem presented, we will provide an estimate of the cost involved to address the problem. We will work within an agreed upon time frame and will provide the client with the results of our research in writing or verbally – whichever the client prefers.Some of the areas on which we provide consulting services are:

  • Structuring asset based loans and financial leases, including cross-border transactions;
  • Registering security interests and performing registry searches in Mexico and Honduras;
  • Understanding and exercising creditors’ rights in bankruptcy; and
  • Understanding the mechanisms for the resolution of disputes, judicial and extrajudicial

For more information about our consulting services, please contact us at natlaw@natlaw.com.

Enhancing Trade Capacity

The Center has expertise in a variety of legal areas that help a country to expand its exports. Some examples of areas in which we can enhance the trade capacity of a country are:

  • Streamlining customs laws, policies and forms;
  • Simplifying documentation required for shippers to take goods in and out of the country;
  • Reforming the banking laws that govern letters of credit and other tools for trade finance.
  • A description of some of our experience in these areas can be found in the Projects area of our website.

Secured Transactions Law Reform

The importance of the role that personal property secured transactions reform plays in economic growth and poverty reduction in individual countries has been recognized and highlighted by the United Nations’ High-Level Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor (HLCLEP), and many other institutions including the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank as well as the African and Asian Development Banks. An efficient and modern personal property secured lending system enables consumers, micro, small and medium-sized businesses to access credit to strengthen their economic position in the market, grow and expand their businesses, hire new employees, and participate in local as well as regional and international markets at a level playing field. The Center has a well- proven methodology for assisting countries to implement secured transactions law reform.

Roadmap of the Secured Lending Environment

As a first step, we conduct an in-country evaluation of the country’s credit structure, law, practices and policies. This initial research, data collection and analysis of law in force, as well as practices adhered to, is crucial for the identification of:

  1. market participants (including lenders, borrowers, public and private entities/supporting institutions, etc.);
  2. assets available as collateral; and
  3. loan requirements.

The analysis in this Roadmap is fully contextual, it is not merely a study of the applicable rules but also of the prevailing legal culture where secured transactions law is concerned. This evaluation will serve as the foundation for the subsequent reform of the law on secured transactions, an effective registry implementation and development of best lending practices.

Work Plan for Revising Law and Regulations

The work plan we design for the country will be based on the results of the Roadmap. Depending on the preference of the country and on the resources available for this effort, we can either take a strong supporting role or we can lead the legal reform effort.

We have extensive experience in both drafting secured transactions statutes but also with re-drafting and commenting on existing drafts. We are comfortable with either methodology. One of our roles will be to explain to the local working group what the best international, regional and national best practices are and how modern statutes regulate particular issues.

In addition, we have the expertise to provide explanations and justifications for the inclusion/exclusion of certain rules from secured transactions law and regulations. From our extensive practical experience, we know which mechanisms have worked best and which aspects of the secured transactions law have proven to be the most troublesome.

Finally, our experience in the drafting of commercial law statutes, best practice manuals and secured transactions laws will ensure that the country’s secured transactions statute is not internally inconsistent or contradicts other laws. Careful drafting will avoid conflicts regarding the interpretation and application of the law and the Registry Regulations. As regards the final output, our main objective is to make sure that the country’s secured transactions legal framework is consistent with the best international practices and that it fits the local practices, culture and attitudes of lenders and borrowers.

Advice related to the Implementation of the Registry of Security Interests

Once a country has reformed its secured transactions laws and regulations, it needs to have an electronic registry of security interests so that the public has an inexpensive way to record and search security interests on movable assets. Working with our partner, Ose Micro Solutions (www.osemicro.com), we have the expertise and experience to assist the country to create state-of-the-art, online registration systems. Upon request, we will consult and advise the country on matters that are necessary for the registry system to support a modern secured transactions legal framework, including on its location, host, possible design and basic specifications of the registry system.

Training

As countries reform their commercial laws, there is a need to ensure that those who interpret and enforce those laws have the training necessary to make the laws work as intended. We believe that training and capacity building are essential for the effective implementation of laws and reforms. Our approach to designing such training is to use experienced professionals as faculty and to combine practice and theory. We teach the “how” and the “why”. The result is training that teaches practitioners not only what they need to know, but also gives them the context to understand why the law was reformed.

Our training methodology can be easily customized to different subject matters and audiences. We can deliver the training in person, virtually or through a combination of both. Here is the four-step process:

Define goals.

Meet with stakeholders to define the goals of and audience for the training. Agree with stakeholders on the desired length of the training and the mix of in-person and virtual elements.

Gather content.

Our research attorneys have extensive knowledge in the areas of commercial and trade law around the world. We supplement that knowledge with information and insights from practitioners in the field to ensure that our content is update to date, complete and relevant to the audience. We also do a review of best practices in the relevant area if necessary, to ensure we are providing training with content that is relevant to the country but that also uses the most modern concepts in the field.

Design training.

Our team custom designs each training program to meet the needs and requirements of every audience. This generally includes simulations, case studies and other interactive elements to build skills rather than just share knowledge. We can train in both English and Spanish and we work in close collaboration with U.S., Latin American and European Law Schools.

Deliver and follow up.

Delivery, like content, is highly customized to the needs of the stakeholders. We can deliver in country and in the local language, at our Center in the U.S. or virtually via live or pre-recorded video. Follow up is important to ensure that the training has had the desired effect and to identify any needs for additional training.

Case study: Training Federal Judges in Mexico on Oral Advocacy Rules

We have applied this methodology to train a variety of audiences that have a role in influencing the economic development of their countries. In the past, these audiences have included judges, lawyers, administrative and customs officials, industry representatives, and registry officials. We tailor each course to the legal and cultural context of its audience to ensure maximum learning and skill building.In addition to reaching a multitude of audiences, the Center’s training also cover a broad range of topics including:

  • Introduction of oral trials for the use in commercial, civil, and bankruptcy disputes;
  • Cross-border enforcement of judgments;
  • Commercial contract law;
  • Secured transactions law and practice;
  • Competition law and policy;
  • Alternative dispute resolution;

Our training teams are also customized to maximize the value of the training for all participants. We recruit a variety of individuals to join our trainers on each project. In the past, outside trainers have included retired and current judges, practitioners that specialize in the designated area of law, respected members of the banking industry, law professors and other industry experts.

Translation

The language of the law is precise and technical. The mistranslation of a single word or phrase in a legal document can lead to expensive consequences. Translating legal documents requires more than fluency in the languages, it requires a thorough understanding of the law itself. That is why it is imperative to have legal documents translated by people who are fluent in the languages and the legal concepts involved.

We provide unofficial translation services of legal documents from Spanish to English and English to Spanish. Our translators are trained in both common law and civil law systems. Each translation goes through a rigorous quality review process by lawyers who are native speakers of Spanish and English.

We can translate any type of legal document, including:

  • Contracts;
  • Laws;
  • Regulations;
  • Specifications;
  • Standards; and
  • Decrees.

The price of a translation will depend on the length and complexity of the document, the audience the document is being translated for and the time frame in which the translation is requested. All work performed will be kept in the strictest confidence.  For more information on our translation services email us at epocock@natlaw.com.

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