The Chevron-Ecuador Dispute, Forum Non Conveniens, and the Problem of Ex Ante Inadequacy
1 Stanford Journal of Complex Litigation 417 (2013)
12 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2013 Last revised: 6 Aug 2013
Date Written: April 18, 2013
This essay, written for the 2013 Stanford Journal of Complex Litigation symposium on lessons from the Chevron-Ecuador environmental litigation, urges that we not take the wrong lesson concerning the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The paper highlights the irony of the forum battles in the litigation. The plaintiffs sued in the United States, the defendants won dismissal on grounds of forum non conveniens (arguing that the dispute should be adjudicated by the courts of Ecuador), the plaintiffs obtained a massive judgment in Ecuador, and the defendants challenged the judgment on grounds of fraud and corruption in the Ecuadorian proceedings. Despite the temptation to see the Chevron-Ecuador litigation as a cautionary tale about forum non conveniens, this essay argues that the “adequate alternative forum” standard for forum non conveniens should remain exceedingly low. Ex ante, deference to foreign legal systems should prevail, even as we permit ex post challenges to recognition of judgments on grounds of fraud and corruption.
Keywords: forum non conveniens, Chevron, Texaco, Ecuador, adequate alternative forum, Lago Agrio
JEL Classification: K32, K33, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation