Many businesses operating outside the United States assume that they are not subject to US law. That is a reasonable assumption, but it is often wrong. The US government routinely investigates and prosecutes foreign companies and their executives for conduct occurring outside the United States. Adding insult to injury, civil plaintiffs regularly sue foreign businesses for alleged violations of US law.

Applying US law to foreign conduct is not always fair, and many have criticized the United States for trying to impose its own views on the rest of the world. But, fair or not, the US government and civil plaintiffs alike have won many significant cases against non-US businesses. As a result, businesses everywhere must be mindful of US law.

This guide provides an introduction to the US laws that are most likely to be applied against companies located outside the United States including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the antitrust and competition laws, and the Anti-Terrorism Act, among others. It answers such questions as:

  • What kinds of US laws are applicable to conduct outside the United States?
  • Why does the United States seek to regulate conduct outside the United States?
  • How can US authorities and civil plaintiffs enforce laws against non-US businesses?
  • What can non-US companies do to protect themselves from US enforcement actions? 

Learn more about Mayer Brown's Global Anti-Corruption & FCPA, White Collar Defense & ComplianceAntitrust & Competition, Securities Litigation & Enforcement and International Trade practices.