What is Forum Non Conveniens and Why Should You Care?

Court house

What happens if you are sued in a location that is far away from you and inconvenient? Do you have any options? You may wish to move the case to a court that is closer and more convenient. The good news is that this may be possible by filing a motion for “forum non conveniens.”

Transferring a Case 

Forum non conveniens is a common law doctrine, which permits a court to dismiss or transfer a case if another forum is available and would be more convenient to all of the parties and witnesses. It is available in both state and federal courts. 

In determining whether or not a case can be moved, a court will look at what is known as the “totality of the circumstances.” This is a fancy way of saying that the court will look at all of the facts of the particular case as well as at everyone involved in deciding whether the move makes sense. A case will not be moved simply because it would be more convenient for the moving party (the one who filed the motion).

Elements of a Success Motion for Forum Non Conveniens 

A party who wishes to dismiss a case for forum non conveniens must demonstrate the following elements:

  1. Another forum is available;
  2. Another forum is adequate; and
  3. Another forum is more convenient in light of the public and private interests involved. 

The burden of proving the aforementioned falls on the individual looking to move the case. That party must persuade the court that it would be not only more convenient but also more just and fair to move the case. 

Factors the Court Considers

So, what factors do courts usually look to when making their decision on whether or not to invoke forum non conveniens? They will commonly consider the following:

  1. The location where the relevant events occurred; 
  2. The forum that is most familiar with the governing law; 
  3. Plaintiff’s choice of forum; 
  4. The respective parties’ contacts with the forum; 
  5. The contacts relating to plaintiff’s cause of action in the chosen forum; 
  6. The differences in costs of litigation in the two fora; 
  7. The availability of compulsory process to compel attendance of unwilling non-party witnesses; 
  8. The ease of access to sources of proof; and 
  9. The public policy of the forum state.

The court generally defer to the plaintiff’s choice of venue and generally won’t move the forum unless the forum would greatly benefit the defendant over the plaintiff. It’s also important to look at a mandatory forum-selection clause within a pre-existing agreement. If the parties already agreed to a forum selection in a prior agreement, the court should generally transfer that case to that specific forum. 

Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC Can Help Those in VA Who Are Facing Litigation

If you are facing litigation in an inconvenient forum, it can potentially impact your case. A knowledgeable and experienced Virginia attorney who has experience with forum non conveniens can help to walk you through the process.

At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, we work hard to ensure that our clients receive the best outcome and compensation that they deserve. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

Posted in: Civil Litigation