Isle of Man: ITC Model Contracts Help Small Firms Clinch Trade Deals
Cains Attends International Working Session
Last Updated: 19 May 2009

Business lawyers and experts from around the world (including a representative from Cains) met in Geneva at the International Trade Centre (ITC) on 21-22 April 2009 to review and finalize model contracts that can be used free of charge by small firms across the world.

The ITC specialists and lawyers from 51 countries were joined at the 21 - 22 April 2009 working session by chambers of commerce and other trade support bodies from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. From June 2009 it is expected that the model contracts will be available free of charge on the Internet and will be distributed by participating organisations to their member firms.

"Small businesses can benefit from well-drafted model contracts, be they from developed or developing countries," said ITC Executive Director Patricia R. Francis, "but most smaller organisations do not always have sufficient resources to access the legal advice that they need, which is the case for more and more organisations in the current international economic climate."

To meet this challenge, the Geneva-based ITC set up a network in which leading law firms with trade expertise seconded top specialists at no charge to work together to create model contracts that – with minimal modifications – can be used in any part of the globe. The law firms are also covering their own costs to attend the meeting.

ITC, a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization (WTO), provides the service as a contribution to Aid for Trade efforts led by WTO, as well as the UN Millennium Development Goals that aim to help to reduce poverty through trade.

"Small firms, the backbone of many economies, are finding themselves strapped by the current economic crisis," Ms Francis noted. "These model contracts are a concrete, practical way to secure their trade deals in global markets. They take into account the increasing sophistication of international trade transactions, and incorporate internationally-recognized standards and best practices."

Andrew Corlett, Managing Director, Cains, said: "As the Isle of Man benefits from being increasingly involved in global trade and large scale financial transactions, it is important, in our view, for the Isle of Man’s leading organisations to help SMEs in this way, particularly those in the developing world. We have been proud to contribute our time and expertise free of charge to support the ITC. We hope that this ITC initiative is as successful as its previous endeavours."

Stephen Rodd, Departmental Director, Cains, who attended the Geneva event, said:

"From the events of the last few days, it is clear to me that the Isle of Man can become a respected contributor to matters of international trade.

It was very interesting to meet lawyers from over 50 countries, learn from their knowledge and experience, forge personal and professional relationships whilst, at the same time, be involved in a project which should tangibly help small businesses worldwide."

ITC already has contracts in several languages online for perishable goods, publishing and joint ventures. At this week’s meeting, 10 more model contracts are being discussed and validated. These range from simple sale of goods contracts through to long-term supply and service agreements and brokerage agreements to the establishment of joint ventures entities for many sectors.

"Equally important is making sure these contracts reach small businesses in poor countries who need them most," Ms Francis added. "This is why we are working with our global network of trade support institutions, who can make the contracts free to businesses in several languages through their websites." ITC will also provide training on their use under local ITC programmes.

ITC, which has 45 years of experience in assisting developing countries and transition economies to work their way out of poverty through trade, is using the initiative as a way to strengthen its network to support SMEs with contractual issues and share best practices in contract drafting, while working to increase the training capacity of national trade support institutions.

The new model contracts will be online this summer on ITC’s web site, as well as on the web sites of participating law firms and national trade support institutions in developing countries. The full process of elaborating them, and thus bridging the many legal and cultural traditions that are reflected global trade, has taken only one year.

ITC expressed its appreciation to the lawyers and law firms from the 51 countries who have willingly contributed their time and expertise in drafting these model contracts.

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About Cains

Cains is a leading Isle of Man law firm and is expert in advising clients in the fields of international financial services, e-business, space and satellite, shipping and capital markets. The business acts for a broad range of clients including multi-national corporations, financial institutions, regulatory bodies and family offices. The business also has a strong track record of working in partnership with leading law firms to effect international transactions for clients, including market listings. In addition to the Isle of Man, the firm has offices in London and Singapore.

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