AuthorErnesto Sanchez
Venue—the geographic location where a case is heard—is a “matter of convenience of litigants
and witnesses.”1 While subject matter jurisdiction is “fundamentally preliminary” to both the
issues of personal jurisdiction and venue, courts may decide a venue issue before addressing
personal jurisdiction if there is “a sound prudential justication for doing so.”2 e FSIA, greatly
simplifying the issue of forum selection, expressly sets forth appropriate venues for legal actions.3
Section 1391(f ) of the FSIA states:
A civil action against a foreign state as dened in section 1603(a) of this title may be
brought –
(1) in any judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving
rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of
the action is situated;
(2) in any judicial district in which the vessel or cargo of a foreign state is situated, if
the claim is asserted under section 1605(b) of this title;
(3) in any judicial district in which the agency or instrumentality is licensed to do
business or is doing business, if the action is brought against an agency or instru-
mentality of a foreign state as dened in section 1603(b) of this title; or
(4) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia if the action is
brought against a foreign state or political subdivision thereof.4
Absent a valid forum selection agreement between parties, venue in an FSIA action, despite the
statute’s limitation of potential choices, may still be proper in more than one location. If, for
1. Denver & Rio Grande West Railroad Co. v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, 387 U.S. 556, 560 (1967) (cita-
tions omitted); see also Neirbo Co. v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 308 U.S. 165, 167-68 (1939) (“e jurisdiction of
the federal courts—their power to adjudicate—is a grant of authority to them by Congress and thus beyond the scope
of litigants to confer. But the locality of a law suit—the place where judicial authority may be exercised—though dened
by legislation relates to the convenience of litigants and as such is subject to their disposition.”).
2. Leroy v. Great Western United Corp., 443 U.S. 173, 180 (1979).
3. House Report at 6631 (FSIA venue provisions intended to preempt general federal venue law); see also Conven-
tion For e Unication Of Certain Rules Relating To International Carriage By Air art. 28(1), Oct. 12, 1929, 49
Stat. 3000 (not conicting with FSIA, stating only that “[a]n action for damages must be brought, at the option of the
plainti, in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, either before the court of the domicile of the carrier
or of his principal place of business, or where he has a place of business through which the contract has been made, or
before the court at the place of destination”).
4. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(f).
ForSovImmunAct_book.indb 241 4/11/13 3:32 PM

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