The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found that the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida abused its discretion by dismissing an action for forum non conveniens without evaluating the significance of the contract’s forum-selection clause. In 2002, a representative of the Government of Belize (Government) entered into an agreement with a Belizean company, International Telecommunications, Ltd., to lease telephonic hardware equipment. The Master Lease Agreement contained a forum selection clause in which the Government “irrevocably submits to the exclusive jurisdiction of any of the federal and state courts of the State of Florida” in any action related to the agreement.

The District Court dismissed the action, in part on forum non conveniens grounds, and the Eleventh Circuit reversed. The court held that controlling Supreme Court case law required the District Court to consider the application of the forum-selection clause in the agreement. The court of appeals remanded to the District Court to determine whether the forum-selection clause was enforceable in this case. 

GDG Acquisitions, LLC v. Government of Belize, No. 13-11616 (11th Cir. Apr. 22, 2014).