A Florida court recently heard an appeal in a cruise ship personal injury case. However, rather than the more common personal injury case brought by a passenger, this case was being brought by a gentleman who was working under contract to conduct art auctions on cruise ships. A Serbian national and resident, the plaintiff brought the suit against the company he was working for, alleging that he injured his back while working. He initially filed the suit with the Miami-Dade circuit court, but the court dismissed the case pursuant to a mandatory forum selection clause.
Relevant to the case at hand, the forum selection clause stated that all legal proceedings, brought by either party, relating to the contract were to be brought in the Turks and Caicos Islands, except that the defendant company could sue in other forums if it was in pursuit of obtaining an injunction as related to the confidentiality and non-compete provisions of the contract.
On appeal, the court found the mandatory forum selection clause passed the legal test as being valid and enforceable because it did not believe that the forum was unjust and unreasonable so as to constitute no forum at all. Specifically, the court found that because the Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Territory and are thus a part of the British common law system, therefore any necessary appeals would come to the highest courts of the United Kingdom. The court stated its opinion that these courts were certainly capable of reviewing the relevant evidence and determining the applicability of relevant law. Thus, it did not find that the courts constituted “no forum at all.”