Winter 2007-11 Choice of forum clause enforced

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Number 66
Winter 2007

U.S. District Court


Choice of forum clause enforced


In TAT/ICIB Services, Inc. v. Advance Logistics Group, Inc., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86927, the federal court in Puerto Rico enforced a contractual provision choosing that all disputes be heard in Marseille.

Bill of lading

The bill of lading in this action in admiralty to collect tariffs stated that all claims and disputes arising thereunder were to be adjudicated by the Tribunal de Commerce de Marseille, "and no other Court shall have jurisdiction with regards to any such action." That plain language notwithstanding, the plaintiff filed in San Juan, arguing that the choice of the Marseille forum was unreasonable, as all parties had their places of business in Puerto Rico and the acts relevant to the suit took place here.

District Court disagrees

But the District Court disagreed because both parties were resourceful corporations with similar bargaining power, and they freely selected Marseille.
Also, the bill of lading's selection of applicable law was France's. "The French courts are better equipped and in a much better position to apply their laws than the District Court of Puerto Rico."

The judge dismissed the case.


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