Lost Wagers

Home-Court Advantage

Don't let where you'll dispute become your dispute.

When there's a dispute over a contract, it's not uncommon for the parties to land in court--the question is, which court? If you do busi-ness outside your local area, you could find yourself in a courtroom battle being waged hundreds or even thousands of miles away from your home base--unless you write a venue clause into your contract.

Most states have basic venue statutes that provide where, in the absence of a contract stipulating otherwise, lawsuits are to be filed--the county in which the contract was signed or payment is to be made, the county in which the defendant resides, or the county in which the breach of contract occurred--says Terry Young, an attorney with Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed PA in Orlando, Florida. Although you may be able to change the venue after a legal proceeding has begun, that process will only delay getting the real dispute settled.

You should also decide in advance which state's laws will apply to your contract, keeping in mind that laws regarding various aspects of commerce can vary significantly by state. Include this information in the venue clause. And although the clause doesn't have to be lengthy or complex, it's always safe to seek legal counsel in the negotiation of contracts.

Contact Sources

Berger, Kahn, Shafton, Moss, Figler, Simon & Gladstone, 2 Park Plaza, #650, Irvine, CA 92614, (949)?74-1880

National Opinion Research Center,http://www.norc.uchicago.edu

Transition Management Inc., (801)?72-9280, ngarbett@transition-management.com

Work|Life Benefits, (800)?49-7948, http://www.wlb.com

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This article was originally published in the July 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Lost Wagers.

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