A producer and a distributor entered into an agreement to sell shoes in Australia. The contract contained broad New York choice of law and venue provisions. When relations soured, the distributor brought suit in an Australian court, which declined to enforce either the venue or choice of law provision finding that doing so might deprive the plaintiff of a remedy it could obtain under Australian law. Should a New York court enjoin the distributor from continuing its Australian lawsuit?
Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the Commercial Division of New York County’s Supreme Court recently confronted this difficult question of international law in Madden International, Ltd. v. Lew Footwear Holdings Pty Ltd.. It was clear that Madden, a US company, had insisted on the New York forum and New York law provision in the contract. Instead of receiving the benefit of its bargain Madden found itself embroiled in a lawsuit in Australia, with Lew Footwear successfully arguing Australian law should be applied, and that the suit should go forward in Australia.