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Enforcing Forum Selection Clauses

A forum selection clause is a contractual provision designating the court(s) of a particular country to adjudicate any future disputes between the parties.  Forum selection clauses are frequently used in international distribution agreements, licensing agreements, joint venture agreements, bills of lading, and other international contracts.

Under American law, a forum selection clause that calls for litigation outside the US is usually enforceable – in other words, if a contract provides that future disputes will be adjudicated in (for example) Germany, and if an American claimant who signed that contract sues in the United States, the American court usually will not adjudicate the case and will require the American claimant to sue in Germany.

Despite that general rule, lawyers who represent American plaintiffs frequently attempt to avoid forum selection clauses through any one of several tactics – such as (a) asserting a claim for fraud or some other “non-contractual” cause of action, (b) asserting a violation of an alleged oral promise, (c) asserting a claim for violation of a statute, or (d) suing (additional) defendants who did not sign the agreement that contains the forum selection clause.

The lawyers in the International Litigation Network have substantial experience in representing non-US businesses in enforcing forum selection clauses, including in the contexts described above. 

Some of the lawyers in ILN are internationally recognized experts in the area of enforcing forum selection clauses. 

If your company has been sued in the United States despite the presence of a valid forum selection clause in your contract, chances are very good that the lawyers in the International Litigation Network can assist you.