You don’t need personal skill to decide Forum Non Conveniens

As you review the complaint that has just been served on your client, you realize that your possible defenses include both lack of personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens. You ask yourself. Must the court first decide that it has personal jurisdiction before it has jurisdiction to consider the issue of forum non conveniens? A recent decision by the New York Court of Appeals held that the court could deal with the issue of forum non conveniens before the issue of personal jurisdiction. In doing so, it followed a similarly effective U.S. Supreme Court ruling some 15 years earlier. To see Sinochem Intl. Co. c. Malaysia Intl. Shipping549 US 422 (2007) (sinochem).

‘Domain of Margaret Kainer’

Context. In the 1930s, the Nazi regime stole a painting by Edgar Degas titled dancers of Margaret Kainer, resident in Germany, whose painting is the subject of the trial, Estate of Margaret Kainer, et al. vs. UBS AG, New York Bulletin 2021. Op. 07056 (December 16, 2021). Plaintiffs are Kainer’s estate and 11 putative heirs who allege that Kainer’s estate passed to them under relevant intestate law. The accused Norbert Stiftung (the Foundation) is a foundation allegedly provided for in Kainer’s father’s 1927 will, to be established in the event that she died without children or grandchildren. The plaintiffs claim that after Kainer’s death, the defendants’ predecessor UBS AG and UBS Global Asset Management (Americas) established the Foundation as a Swiss public entity under the direction and control of UBS, and obtained improperly all of Kainer’s assets.

Melvin B. Baillie