Today any of the following could land on your desk: a new supplier agreement, data processing agreement outsourcing the processing of your company’s employee data or a submission to a court or an arbitral tribunal.
There are few things in-house counsels dread more than disputes. Litigation at a court or an arbitral tribunal has a way of damaging relationships, harming reputations, and spending money, time, and talent. Everyone involved in international negotiations, contracts and corporate transactions knows that disputes are steadily increasing.
However, they are also increasingly avoidable. “Prevention of disputes is the key. The most successful resolution of a dispute is preventing it from ever existing”, says Jussi Lehtinen, Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution. Lehtinen feels strongly about preparing for the unexpected both in the contract negotiation phase and when litigation is inevitable. “Disputes need to be nipped in the bud to produce win-win solutions instead of leaving open terrain for bitter fights that can leave both sides damaged”, Lehtinen says.
Lehtinen is the father of the D&I Dispute Academy (“Riitelykoulu” in Finnish) where he shares insightful advice and best practices in tailored training sessions. “It would be short-sighted to think that managing the dispute at hand would be enough, even when victorious! Defending my clients’ best interests over time requires me to help them in preventing their future disputes.” In D&I Dispute Academy, as in his daily work, Lehtinen engages a multi-disciplinary D&I team to make sure that companies’ legal and business teams are well prepared for preventing disputes.
In the era of smart use of assets like business data, customer databases, innovations and other intangible property, holistic cross-practice considerations in contract drafting are extremely vital. One of the increasingly topical areas in which dispute resolution needs to be addressed is privacy and data protection clauses.
Along with the significance of data as an asset increasing and the new EU General Data Protection Regulation entering into force, the number of privacy and data protection related disputes will undoubtedly increase. “Solid data protection knowledge is worth nothing in case a dispute due to a data breach or a liability issue arises. We need to look beyond apparent facts and consider potential future disputes already when drafting data privacy clauses”, says Jukka Lång, Partner, Head of Data Protection, Marketing & Consumers.
“As disputes have become increasingly more complex, parties have become increasingly more knowledgeable. We were suddenly discussing current dispute proceedings in Sweden and in the United States and comparing them with the Finnish system”,
says Jussi Lehtinen after the session of the Dispute Academy with in-house counsels and representatives of the management of a Finnish company with operations worldwide.
“It would simply be bad advice not to consider dispute resolution when drafting data privacy clauses. Solid data protection knowledge is worth nothing in case a dispute arises due to a data breach or a liability issue”