Under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, a federal district court may dismiss an action on the ground that a foreign court is the more appropriate and convenient forum for adjudicating the controversy.[i] The doctrine has application only in cases where the alternative forum is abroad.
Generally, it is presumed that the plaintiff’s chosen forum, which will be defeated only if the defendants can demonstrate: (1) that an adequate alternative forum exists; and (2) that, considering relevant private and public interest factors, the balance of convenience is strongly in favor of trial in the alternative forum. Firstly, the court has to determine if an adequate forum exists. Once the availability of an alternate forum is established, the court weighs, as matter within its sound discretion, the relevant private and public interest factors to assess whether dismissal from the present forum is appropriate.[ii]
An arbitration agreement is a specialized kind of forum-selection clause, and an admiralty court should give full effect to forum selection clauses.
[i] Sinochem Int’l Co. v. Malay. Int’l Shipping Corp., 549 U.S. 422 (U.S. 2007)
[ii] Rahl v. Bande, 328 B.R. 387 (S.D.N.Y. 2005)