Contract law and negotiations in Colombia

What do you need to know about Colombian business culture?

The average Colombian has limited exposure to the rest of the world barring its immediate neighbours. The younger generation, however, is open-minded and aware of other cultures. All Colombians prefer to establish close bonds and are more comfortable conducting business with known and trusted parties. It will be beneficial if you approach a Colombian party with a team of negotiators as this is more reassuring for them. Also, it is important to maintain the same team members throughout the negotiation process.

What are negotiation tactics in Colombia?

  • Schedule meetings 2 or 3 weeks in advance and then reconfirm a couple of days prior to the meeting.
  • Establish a personal link before proceeding to discuss business
  • Respond positively to often repetitive queries about how you are and how you like Colombia. Colombians are aware of their country’s dark reputation and they want to hear how you like their country.
  • Speaking in Spanish will give you an advantage.
  • Check with the party if an interpreter would be required before the meeting. If so, bring along your own interpreter.
  • Titles are important and should be used when one is not yet on first name basis.
  • Don’t back away from a Colombian who is trying to speak to you as they tend to stand close while communicating
  • Be positive but persistent and aim for a win-win result in the negotiation as that is what Colombians prefer.

How much is the contract worth in Colombia?

Temporary or interim agreements in Colombia are not to be taken too seriously even if they are in writing. The written contract can be lengthy and inclusive of many details and eventualities. Seek the help of a local lawyer to help you to understand it. In any case, a contract is merely a formality in Colombia. There is more importance given to the personal connection over a written document, even if it is signed.

What is the arbitration and litigation in Colombia?

Colombia is in the process of advancing its arbitration processes by adopting international clauses, but it has not yet achieved the desired level of efficiency. Hence, the arbitration process is slow, lengthy and lacking flexibility.

Though the most common type of litigation cases in Colombia relates to the breach of contract, a majority of such cases are held in arbitration tribunals, not in court.

Colombians are conservative and rely on traditional values and long-term connections when striking a business deal. Hence, expanding to Colombia can be challenging. It is advisable to research thoroughly, understand the culture, contract law, and necessary procedures to optimise the outcomes of your strategy.

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