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Foreign Company Online Activity : The Risks Of Litigation

Corporates are subject to increasing risk of being exposed to or otherwise dragged into unnecessary litigation in maintaining the same websites and sharing the same social media points with subsidiary companies based in foreign locations. Technically, these foreign located corporations may be separate legal entities, however, due to their world wide web presence, they appear and represent to the world as being one and the same.

An Australian company, for example, may have an affiliate company in the United States of America. Litigation involving the American counterpart may arise. The opposing party in that litigation may require documents or other evidence to be produced by the Australian company. Whilst technically, the two entities may be separate, their online presence gives public the impression that the two companies are one and the same or otherwise very closely related. This may lead to stressful, expensive and protracted efforts on the part of the Australian entity having to be engaged in litigation in the States in a proceeding that they are (rightly or wrongly) a party to.

Safeguards

Online branding and social media presence is necessary in today’s world. However, there are precautions and safeguards relevant companies can take to try to avoid the attacks of foreign litigation.

First and foremost, on the Australian company’s website, any foreign subsidiaries should not be listed as units or divisions of the company or vice versa. All entities must be clearly, distinctively and convincingly listed as separate legal entities.

Secondly, the Australian company and any foreign subsidiaries should not have the same officials, executives or board members.

Thirdly, all the social media profiles of the various entities should be kept separate and distinct from each other.

Fourthly, business cards, email signature lines and letterheads should reflect the appropriate name of each entity for which it is being circulated and not any unifying identity.

Lastly, employees and users should be imparted with proper social media training and use information. A proper audit should be conducted to periodically monitor and check the company’s website, subsidiaries’ websites and social media pages, and employees’ (of each of the Australian company and the subsidiaries) social media activity.

Burke & Associates Lawyers have experience in providing advice as to the framing of corporate social media policies and implications of online branding policies. Please don’t hesitate to contact Meghan Warren of our Firm on mwarren@burkes-law.com or +61 3 9822 8588 to discuss further.

Contacts

Meghan Warren

Principal

Meghan Warren

Principal
LL.B GAICD B.Bus (FinPlan)
Meghan is one of the few lawyers in Australia admitted in the State (Victoria) and Federal jurisdictions of Australia, and as an Attorney at Law to the New York State Bar in the United States.

Rosy Roberts

Principal

Rosy Roberts

Principal
LL.B (Hons) B.A GAICD
Rosy has extensive experience in Litigation & Alternative Dispute Resolution having represented clients in all Victorian State Courts and the High Court of Australia. She is also a VCAT appointed Administrator.

Kristy Muhlhan

Principal

Kristy Muhlhan

Principal
LL.B (HONS) GRAD DIP. L.P., GAICD.
Since 2014, she has been an owner and Principal of the firm and has mastered a broad range of essential commercial and business skills which go hand in hand with the work she does for...

Anthony Burke

Consultant

Anthony Burke

Consultant
B.A LL.B DIP.FIN. MGT
Tony is an LIV accredited business law specialist and a VCAT appointed Administrator. In 2008 he was President of the Law Institute of Victoria and served for two years as a director of the Law...

Stewart Davis

Associate

Stewart Davis

Associate
As well as property law, Stewart has had exposure to VCAT administration matters and commercial law, particularly servicing developer clients.

George Hanger

Associate

George Hanger

Associate
LL.B BA
George was admitted to legal practice in May 2015 after completing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Laws at Monash University.

Antonela Graso

Paralegal

Antonela Graso

Paralegal
Whilst completing her professional business and law tertiary qualifications, Antonela provides efficient and effective legal support services to our valued teams and clients.

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