You certainly don’t need to go beyond the title to understand the content and purpose of Mark Cobb’s well-maintained blog, which was a finalist in the 2013 Best Construction Blog competition. His blog is undoubtedly worthy of bookmarking if you either are doing or plan to do business in Georgia. Yet his blog also has relevance elsewhere — in fact Virginia construction law blogger Chris Hill recently asked him to write a guest post because of impending changes in Georgia that have foundations in Virginia legislation.
Cobb also reported on the recent Supreme Court decision that confirmed limits on “forum selection” clauses in contracts, that can, if not limited, create onerous burdens on smaller contractors and sub-contractors in enforcing their claims.
Why The U.S. Supreme Court Upheld the Trial Court’s Decision: The Supreme Court recognized states rights in not overruling the Court of Appeals Decision. And, in fact, the Supreme Court’s holding states that when a federal court considers the forum for a case, “the court should not consider the parties’ private interests aside from those embodied in the forum-selection clause; it may consider only public interests.” By authorizing public policy as a part of a court’s decision to transfer or dismiss a case, the Supreme Court recognized state sovereignty as well as the need for public interest to enforce states laws.
Important Lessons for Subcontractors and Suppliers: Although Atlantic Marine did not render all forum selection clauses in construction contracts unenforceable, it does permit a balance between parties’ rights to contract and public policy. In addition, Atlantic Marine is a great reminder of the importance that even a seemingly insignificant subcontract term can hold in a construction contract. Frequently, forum-selection provisions are buried deep within the “boiler plate” terms of the construction contract; parties entering into contract must pay attention to each of these terms including the forum selection clauses.
You will find worthy content in Cobb’s blog, which is a worthy competitor in this year’s competition.