Presentation to the ABA Asia-Pacific Forum, Hong Kong


Jamie Allen, Secretary General, was invited to speak at a session on “Legal Ethics in Cross-Border Transactions and Corporate Social Responsibility” at the Asia-Pacific Forum: Navigating the Life Cycle of a Cross-Border Deal, hosted by The American Bar Association (ABA) Section of International Law in Hong Kong on 25 October 2019.

Cross-border transactions raise unique ethical issues for the attorney. Fundamental issues of client confidentiality and attorney-client privilege differ in scope and substance from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, as do other legal ethical rules relating to honesty in negotiations. Conflict of law issues arise for the attorney seeking guidance as to which jurisdiction’s ethical rules apply, and how the attorney’s home jurisdiction will apply foreign ethical rules. The issue is not academic; challenges to a lawyer’s ethical compliance can result in loss of fees or bar suspension, or worse. In addition, in certain cases the lawyer’s ethical responsibilities require awareness of social, economic and political issues in order to inform legal advice. Corporate social responsibility of clients operating across borders implicates the lawyer’s ethical obligations as counsellor and advisor, as well as competence in understanding where soft law aspirations have become hard law contractual and regulatory matters. The program provided an overview of what the lawyer engaged in cross-border transactions must know.

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