To sue in Canada or abroad ?

Business is global. Doing business globally means at times you’re going to find yourself in a legal dispute with someone who is not in the same country as you. When that happens, where do you sue?

The first step is to read the agreement, if there is one, that you have with the other side. If there is a clause that sets out where you must start law suits, then you are bound by that clause. Note: a clause saying where the law suit must be started is not the same as the clause that says which laws are applicable. It is possible to litigate in Canada and apply USA law. It’s complicated, but it can by done.

If you’re free to sue in the country of your choosing, it’s wise to look at where the assets of the defendant are. If you obtain judgment in the country where they don’t have assets, then you’re going to have to bring a separate law suit to enforce the one you obtained. Sometimes that is an advantage: laws in certain countries make it easier to obtain a Judgment than in others. However, it is important to look at the laws regarding reciprocally enforcing judgments and determine that the test can be met, before deciding this is the route to go.

Ultimately, consult a lawyer before making a decision on where to sue. Better yet, consult a lawyer prior to doing business abroad and draft a contract that makes the jurisdiction where you are located.

Inga B. Andriessen JD