Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act

Over the summer I came across an article posted on an application found on Linkedin. I find Linkedin.com to be the best professional networking site around. Linked in is not just a professional networking site. It has many tools and applications available. One of the most useful applications I’ve come across is called Legal Updates by JD Supra. There are thousands of briefs and postings to be found on this application. With the current political, financial and manufacturing upheavals under way, new laws and regulations are constantly being thrown at us. A bill currently under consideration is called the “Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act” HR4678.

The brief I found through linkedin was originally posted by Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and may be found through the following link.

import-law-pending

Reading the brief tells you all you need to know for now.

Status updates on the bill may be found at the following link…

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-4678

and the actual bill at…

energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20100629/HR4678.pdf

Congress is now entering a lame duck session. If this bill is going to pass it shall be within the next two months. All indications are that this shall be a very busy lame duck session. The bill has some good and bad points. A good point is that it makes someone responsible for importing substandard goods. The responsible party would be the group doing the importing here in the United States and becomes the established registered agent. The agent assumes all regulatory and legal responsibilities. In other words no more passing the buck to an off-shore manufacturer that disappears or changes names and legally disappears. The agent doing the importing assumes all liability.

My company, Electropac, already does this anyway. What this bill does is level the playing field. This bill would force disreputable brokers to do the same or face legal and financial penalties. Over time the customers buying the goods shall save money since the quality of the goods shall ultimately go up. The registered agents shall have to make sure they represent or partner up with a quality supplier since they assume all liability.

The bad point with this bill is that it shall add cost. On-line or direct sales located off-shore shall have to set up a registered agent here in the United States. The agents and the office personnel all need to be paid. This adds cost and lowers profit margins. Agents also need to be familiar with all laws and regulations that apply to what is being imported. Specialized professionals add cost. Adding cost in a sluggish economy is never a good thing. Knowing about the added cost before it hits allows companies to plan for it. Knowledge is power. The Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP law firm sounds like a good place to start. Helping companies plan for the bill is one of the services they advertise on their web site. I’m not associated with them but I feel obliged to give them a plug and the credit since they are the ones that raised the alarm in the first place. Thanks to Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP on this.

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