At the start of the new year, (in addition to making some personal resolutions), it is a good time to think prospectively about our industry, our business, and the legal challenges we anticipate. For my compliance clients, that means dusting off those policies and procedures sitting on the shelf and newly assessing your business and legal risk to ensure your policies and internal controls have kept up with new challenges, new technologies, and new rules and regulations.
The auto industry, in particular, continues to face intense scrutiny in antitrust. Last week, another company pled guilty to a two-count felony charge for its role in price fixing conspiracies involving automobile lighting fixtures and lamp ballasts. This latest announcement has brought the total to 24 companies that have pled guilty and 26 individuals charged in the automotive price fixing and bid rigging investigation. The criminal investigation only underscores the need to continuously monitor your practices, train your sales and marketing team to comply with the law and encourage the immediate internal reporting of all potential issues.
Similarly, several OEMs have already been involved in investigations related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Again, this scrutiny of the industry should serve as a reminder to all companies within the supply chain to make sure they have effective policies and training on the FCPA and other anti-bribery laws. That includes, at a minimum, an understanding of the local laws in the countries they are operating in and a robust due diligence process for vetting their international business partners and subcontractors. Policies and manuals that provide extensive guidance to employees and agents on the issues of antitrust and FCPA are critical.
For my clients involved in litigation, there is no shortage of issues to think about. Anticipating risk and possible causes of action arising from new OEM terms and conditions is one thing on everyone’s mind across the supply chain. Once involved in litigation, dealing with the ever-increasing challenge of big data requires proactive thinking about preservation, collection, and review techniques that don’t break the bank, but get you the evidence you need to prevail.
I’m not the only one who has been thinking prospectively – click here to see some of the thoughtful and insightful issues my colleagues have identified as the top legal issues auto suppliers should be thinking about in 2014. The report focuses on what suppliers need to know now, to ensure a successful 2014 and beyond. While not exhaustive, the report covers a comprehensive list of legal areas, including: Antitrust; Commercial Litigation; Compliance; NHTSA and Automotive Safety; Data Security and Privacy; eDiscovery; Environmental; Labor and Employment; and Patents.
Here’s to a productive and proactive 2014!