407 U.S.1, 92 S.Ct. 1907, 32 L.Ed.2d 513
Link to case: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=10750800618470571369&hl=en&as_sdt=6&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr
Parties: Petitioner: The Bremen (German corp)
Respondent: Zapata (Louisiana company/owner of drilling rig)
Procedural History: Petitioner sought review by certiorari of the judgment entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in which a forum-selection clause in a contract between petitioner German corporation and respondent United States corporation was held invalid.
Facts: Petitioner, a German corporation contracted with the respondent, an United States corporation to transport an oil rig from Louisiana to Italy. During transportation, the rig was damaged and was towed to Tampa, Florida (at the respondent's request), where the United States corporation filed suit. The German corporation, however, asked the district court to enforce the forum-selection clause that was in their contract, providing for the litigation of any dispute to have jurisdiction in England. The district court refused to enforce the clause and the lower appellate court affirmed.
Issue: was the District Court of Florida correct to refuse to enforce the forum-selection clause created between a US company and a German Corporation?
Holding: The court held that the forum-selection clause was valid and the case was remanded for a determination of whether enforcement was unreasonable.
Rule: "It is settled … that parties to a contract may agree in advance to submit to the jurisdiction of a given court, to permit notice to be served by the opposing party, or even to waive notice altogether."
Reasoning: The rig would have traveled over many jurisdictions, and it would be very inconvenient for both parties if a suit could have jurisdiction wherever an accident occurs. That is why the forum-selection clause was established in this contract. It eliminates those uncertainties and helps international trade, commerce and contracting.
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Notes for The Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co.