Respecting local law

NEWS of recent weeks has been dominated by "Facebook" not because of the stories on Facebook itself but the implications of data collection, management, protection and "anticipated use". Social media has transformed communication and is central to modern life. The unprecedented implications of re-use of data and analytical interrogation and application are only beginning to be fully understood. The power of technology has been shown to have the potential to be as disruptive as the forces of the mountains and the oceans. "Man" has learned to respect these natural forces and a similar experience is developing around social media.

Election and referenda campaigns and results are being questioned and "fake news" has developed a myriad of complex sub-plots. Mark Zuckerberg has been required to answer to Congress on a range of matters, some of which are entirely justified and others which appear honestly to be "unforeseen consequences".

The imminent implementation on May 25, of the General Data Protection Regulations has not been taken sufficiently seriously by some businesses but the publicity and interest surrounding the Facebook story has changed that. People are now rightly demanding to know who has their data, what they are using it for and who else might then access it. The sanctions and reputational damage for failing to comply with GDPR are meaningful and now seem entirely appropriate.

One of the challenges in internationalising and then globalising any business is learning and respecting local law, custom and practice and understanding the complex interface with international law, custom and practice. This is part of the foundation on which success can be built. Over many years of advising a diverse range of clients, this has been one of the key areas that can directly impact the valuation of a business, whether on sale, listing on the capital markets or financing. Sometimes the most basic elements which can be least exciting in the journey of growing a business are the ones which have the greatest impact on value. Ensuring that the basic "hygiene" of administration, record-keeping, IT and general security are in order is the foundation on which growth can take place and success follow.