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Monday, June 23, 2008

Courthouse vs. steakhouse

A friend of ours and a former Portlander has had an interesting year:

"You know it’s very interesting to be a lawyer here in China," Ms. Murphy said. "I go to conferences and hear people talk about resolving disputes by taking all the parties out to a big banquet. Everyone has a good time and then comes to an amicable resolution. Some Chinese have argued that they don’t need all these hundreds of laws -- and consequent lawsuits. In part of my heart I agree with them. The U.S. has become lawsuit crazy at times. Yet these laws protect citizens, they’ve established safety standards, medical morality and a myriad of ways to keep the U.S. population safe."
The whole thing is here. [Via TaxProf Blog].

Comments (8)

Just so we're all aware, in many instances of doing business in China, "banquet" = "bribe."

I'll take the suit-crazy system of laws, not banquets, but thanks.

I bet the folks in Tibet would would agree.

"Us and them" -- it's working so well.

Invite your opponents to a banquet, show them a great time, promise to agree etc. . .
Then in the middle of the night, the Chinese secret police "persuade" the nay-sayers to a little get-together down at the police station.

But I'm sure that sort of thing never happens in democratic China.

If you disagree with them, they'll declare you a "threat" and tap your phone for a week without a warrant...

... no, wait, that's America.

I've dealt with Chinese companies in the electronics business and the idea of going out to a banquet is not unusual. The idea of an amicable resolution is alien (unless you call taking their hardball low offers amicable.)

I will give them credit they are much tougher business people to deal with than Americans, in general. Now if we can just get a Chinese national elected to CoP council . . .

You have to separate out the Chinese government with the Chinese people. It is customary to invite friends or business associates to eat out. This is why you see so many round tables in Chinese restaurants anywhere you go in the world and also why Chinese restaurants always open during holidays. Chinese celebrate most everything by eating out and there are very few traditional celebrations that the family eats in. Businesses are often transacted over a big meal.

My friends who have business in China tell me that nowadays with the government cracking down on bribery, government officials no longer ask for money. However, a government official will have a banquet with his family or friends and then hand them the restaurant bill to pay. Sometimes, they are just told to accompany them on their shopping spree only to pick the tabs. No cash change hands...

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