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Forum Shopping

Forum Shopping refers to a practice followed by the litigants, for choosing a forum to hear their case, which they believe will grant the desired or a most favorable judgment to them. Forum shopping is possible when several courts have concurrent jurisdiction over a plaintiff’s claim.  In the U.S., a plaintiff may file a suit in several jurisdictions; they may file a suit in a Federal or local court according to their convenience.  It may be filed in the jurisdiction where the defendant lives, or where the cause of action arose.  The state and federal courts may have different procedural rules and in some cases they may use different substantive law.  Plaintiff may use them to their advantage.  On the other hand, a plaintiff might prefer one jurisdiction due to a peculiarity in its procedural rules or due to its choice of law rule.

The defendant also gets an opportunity for forum shopping and can have the case removed from the court where the case was filed by the plaintiff.  The defendant may file a motion for forum non convenience and if he is able to convince the court of the inconvenience, he may get the case to be tried in a court of his choice, which has a jurisdiction in the matter.

Forum shopping also happens in criminal cases, but not often.  Certain districts and circuits are widely considered to favor the government in particular issues or trials.  Defendants may want such forums to be avoided, but they may have only a feeble chance to get the forum changed.  They may get an opportunity to change the forum if they are able to prove that localized notoriety and publicity may make it impossible to select an impartial jury.

Generally, U.S. courts object to forum shopping.   One main reason for the objection is that it offends the sense of justice.  Alternatively, the professed favorable courts get overburdened and their work load increases, thereby delaying the timely dispensation of justice in other cases.

Inside Forum Shopping