Storm Brewing: How Rejections by Foreign Courts of Forum Non Conveniens Dismissals by U.S. Courts May Disrupt International Efforts to Achieve Uniformity and Predictability in Jurisdictional Rules

This paper explores an evolving area of international law concerning the doctrine of forum non conveniens (FNC). There is an emerging precedent for United States courts in dealing with plaintiffs after a U.S. court dismisses a cause of action pursuant to the FNC doctrine and directs the parties to re-file in a more convenient (foreign) forum with a far closer connection to the case - only to have the plaintiffs return to the U.S. court after the foreign forum declines jurisdiction on grounds that purport to render the forum unavailable. These plaintiffs often find themselves in a self-inflicted predicament because U.S. courts deny reinstatement of the claims of plaintiffs who have not in good faith complied with a FNC ruling by attempting to revert back to U.S. court jurisdiction. The parties to these disputes, including those in the recent West Caribbean Airways cases, often find themselves ensnared in protracted battles in the courts of two countries for many years. These conflicts are merely a symptom of the disharmony between common law countries that recognize the FNC doctrine and continental civil law countries that use lis alibi pendens, which provides almost the only basis whereby a civil law court may decide not to proceed with a case. After analyzing these disputes, the author recommends proactive measures for the U.S. to consider in order to avoid undermining international efforts to create uniformity, fairness, and predictability in international jurisdictional disputes.


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  • Accession Number: 01487183
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 18 2013 1:52PM