For the first time since Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno in 1982, the United States Supreme Court will hear a case concerning the scope and applicability of the forum non conveniens doctrine when parallel proceedings are contemplated in a foreign court. In granting the petition for a writ of certiorari in Sinochem Int'l Co., Ltd. v. Malaysia International Shipping Corp., No. 06-102, the Supreme Court agreed to decide "[w]hether a district court must first conclusively establish jurisdiction before dismissing a suit on the ground of forum non conveniens?" This question has divided the Unites States Courts of Appeals for nearly a decade, with the D.C. and Second Circuits holding that jurisdiction is not a prerequisite for a forum non conveniens dismissal, and the Ninth, Fifth, Seventh and Third Circuits holding the opposite. The decision, which should be forthcoming in the Spring of 2007, has potential importance to all non-U.S. companies who are sued in the courts of the United States for matters having little or no connection to the U.S. The Justices selected the Sinochem matter as one of the nine cases that it granted review to on September 26 (out of 1,900 petitions that had been stacked up on the Court's docket over its Summer recess). The case will be argued before the Justices in January 2007.
The Order granting the Writ of Certiorari is available here; the Petition for Writ of Certiorari is available here; the Brief in Opposition to Certiorari is available here; and the Reply Brief in Support of Certiorari is available here.
Disclaimer: Charles Kotuby is an Associate in the Washington D.C. Office of Jones Day, who represents Petitioner in this matter.