The U.S. Supreme Court just issued a unanimous opinion that reinforces the importance of having good forum-selection clauses in our contracts. For cases in Federal Court, this opinion will be the reference point for defending against plaintiffs who want to file cases in violation of a forum-selection clause.
These are some portions from the slip opinion, which is attached:
"First, the plaintiff ’s choice of forum merits no weight. Rather, as the party defying the forum-selection clause,the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that transfer to the forum for which the parties bargained is unwarranted."
"When parties agree to a forum-selection clause, they waive the right to challenge the preselected forum as inconvenient or less convenient for themselves or their witnesses, or for their pursuit of the litigation."
"[A] district court may consider arguments about public-interest factors only." So, the parties' private interests are not relevant.
"The court in the contractually selected venue should not apply the law of the transferor venue to which the parties waived their right." So no defeating choice of law provisions by filing a cause of action in a foreign jurisdiction.
And the best for last:
"When parties have contracted in advance to litigate disputes in a particular forum, courts should not unnecessarily disrupt the parties’ settled expectations. A forum selection clause, after all, may have figured centrally in the parties’ negotiations and may have affected how they set monetary and other contractual terms; it may, in fact,have been a critical factor in their agreement to do business together in the first place. In all but the most unusual cases, therefore, “the interest of justice” is served by holding parties to their bargain."
Atlantic_Marine_v_US_Dist_Ct_Western_Dist_of_Texas.pdf (124 Kb, 2 downloads) forum-selection clause case
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