Courts increasingly operate on the “deep pocket” theory. If someone can point to a damage or a grievance suffered, someone else may be made to pay for it. If that “someone” is either no longer in existence (because of death or bankruptcy) then anyone with just the tiniest connection to the (real or imagined) “culprit” may be sued. In the US these days, it is not inconceivable that a man may sue a feminist author for the “emotional damages” he suffered when his wife divorced him after reading a “how and why you should get a divorce from your chauvinist husband”.
If someone sues it means that you will either have to defend yourself – incurring huge legal costs or be found guilty by default. Even if you are cleared (or found unculpable), after years of litigation you may have had to divest yourself of all your assets in order to pay your lawyers’ fees. As a rule of thumb, anyone may sue anybody for anything, anywhere. Governments do it every day to quell dissidents, corporations do it for money and individuals and business competitors do it to harass each other. It’s one giant merry-go-round in which the only assured, long-term winner is “the house” – the lawyers. It is in their economic interest to see that anyone with visible assets becomes a victim of the Deep-Pocket theory.
As the world becomes more and more integrated, national borders are of decreasing importance and protection. A court in the United States recently threatened to levy big fines on the US subsidiary of a Swiss bank unless the Panamanian branch of that bank agreed to . disclose the identities of its American customers. Needless to say, the court did not give a hoot about the lack of formal connection between the US and the Panamanian branches of a foreign owned bank – nor about the fact that, if abiding by the court order, the Panamanian branch would be breaking the banking secrecy laws in Panama – leading to the potential prosecution of managers of the Panamanian branch for complying with the ruling of a United States court.