Florida Estate and Trust Litigation: Is This in Your Firm’s Legal Services Contract with Your Clients?
A September 7, 2016 4th DCA legal malpractice case reminds us of what a “mandatory forum selection clause” is. http://www.4dca.org/opinions/Sept.%202016/09-07-16/4D15-369.op.pdf. Does your law firm’s legal services contract pre-select the venue, county and court, should there be a fee dispute, or any other type of litigation between your firm and your clients– such as being sued for professional negligence? If you provide estate planning services for, say, a Connecticut resident, or other services, say, regarding non-Florida real estate, do you want to be sued in that non-Florida state? Can you avoid this, and have any attorney-client disputes heard here, in Florida?
The R.S.B. Ventures, Inc. case reminds us that a mandatory forum selection clause will be upheld unless it is unreasonable or unjust—even when the “agreed-to” venue for attorney-client disputes is different than where the cause of action accrued. Yes, contracts can “draft-around” our Florida venue statute, F.S. 47.011: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0047/Sections/0047.011.html
Consider: The exclusive and only venue for all disputes or litigation between Firm and Client shall be Palm Beach County, Florida.