forum non conveniens

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[Latin: not in agreement with the judicial forum]

A doctrine that permits a court to decline to accept jurisdiction over a case, so that the case may be tried in an alternative forum (i.e. a foreign court). Such decisions are almost entirely at the court's discretion, except that the party seeking a forum non conveniens decision must submit to the effective jurisdiction of the alternative court. The stay will be granted by the court if it is satisfied that a foreign court having competent jurisdiction is available and that the case may be tried more suitably for the interests of all the parties and the ends of justice in that court. The factors that courts generally consider in making this decision include the location of witnesses, exhibits, and documents, the language of the witnesses and documents, the citizenship of the claimants, and the law applicable to the dispute.

In general, the burden of proof rests on the defendant to persuade the court to exercise its discretion to grant a stay, but if the court is satisfied that another court is available, the burden will then shift to the claimant to show that there are special circumstances requiring that the trial should nevertheless take place in the first court (Spiliada Maritime Corporation v Cansulex Ltd (The Spiliada) [1987] AC (HL) 460, 476 (Lord Goff).

Subjects: Law.

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