Breach of Contract and Courts of Law
In What Court(s) May I File for Breach of Contract?
Before you can file for breach of contract, you need to select the proper court (or venue). In many cases, the contract itself will stipulate where you may file a breach of contract suit. If your contract contains a forum selection clause, you may be bound to the court or the alternative dispute resolution process (see arbitration and mediation) that it lists. However, this depends on whether the forum selection clause is enforceable.
If your contract does not have a forum selection clause, or the forum selection clause in your contract is unenforceable, then you may choose to file for breach of contract in any court that has jurisdiction over the matter. Determining where you can file is a difficult and complex process, especially if you are dealing with an out of state party. Additionally, while you may be able to file in multiple courts, the laws of one jurisdiction may offer you distinct advantages over the laws of another. Thus, knowing where you can file, and where you should file, can make a big difference in helping you win your breach of contract case.
In general, you can file a law suit:
- In the defendant's home state
- In any state with which the defendant has sufficient minimum contacts
- In the state where the contract was negotiated or signed
- In a federal court if the breach of contract involves a federal question
- In a federal court if you and the other party are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000
- In any state or federal court where both parties agree to be sued in
In addition to establishing jurisdiction, you must also select the proper venue to file in. For instance, if you want to sue in federal court and the person or company that you are suing resides in San Francisco, then you must sue in the Federal District Court for Northern California.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me Determine Where to File For Breach of Contract?
Assessing jurisdiction and venue are one of the most difficult aspects of civil law. In order to have the best chance of winning your breach of contract case you need to contact a business attorney to help determine which court to file in. Your attorney will be able to figure out where you can sue. Because your attorney will be familiar with the different laws and rules of each jurisdiction, they will be able to advise you on where to file so that you have the highest possibility of winning your case.
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Last Modified: 11-13-2013 02:55 PM PST
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