Forum-Selection Clauses in Suborbital Space Tourism Contracts and EU Law
Michael P. Chatzipanagiotis
Μarinos-Katsas-Liaskos & Associates
March 1, 2012
Proceedings of the 53rd Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, Young Scholars Session, pp. 160-173, 2011
Suborbital space tourism flights open space to the wide public. Such flights will involve operators operating from different countries and carrying spaceflight participants (SFPs) of various nationalities. To minimize the cost and risk of litigation, operators will probably use forum-selection clauses in their contracts with SFPs. These clauses designate the courts of a particular State, mostly the State of the operator’s main place of business, as competent to resolve any disputes arising from or in relation to the contract. This paper examines the European Union (EU) law on such clauses. The topics under examination include the scope, the validity requirements and the effects of jurisdictional clauses on operators and SFPs. The policies behind the relevant provisions, with special regard to the particularities of consumer protection are also considered. It is concluded that mandatory provisions of EU law on consumer protection could undermine the advantages that forum-selection clauses can have in determining the competent court. National courts will decide on the validity of forum-selection clauses. De lege ferenda it would be useful to introduce international uniform rules, which will also regulate jurisdictional issues, yet such possibility appears remote at present. Therefore, national courts will have to strike an appropriate balance between the interests SFPs and the interests of the nascent suborbital industry. The final word on the interpretation of EU rules on forum-selection clauses will have the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). In the meantime, the effect of such clauses on space tourism contracts cannot be accurately foreseen.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 10
Keywords: spaceflight, suborbital, space tourism, forum-selection clauses, EU law, adhesion contracts, jurisdiction
JEL Classification: K12
Date posted: March 1, 2012
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