Forum shopping

May 25, 2023

CJI Chandrachud recently condemned ‘forum shopping’.

What is practice of forum shopping?

  • When litigants or lawyers attempt to deliberately move their case to a particular judge or Court where they think the judgment could be more favourable, they are said to be “forum shopping.”
  • Lawyers think about which is the right forum to approach as part of their litigation strategy.
    • For example, one could directly approach the Supreme Court via a public interest litigation case instead of the concerned High Court because the issue could get more eyeballs. However, an obvious effort to circumvent the process or avoid a particular judge is frowned upon.
  • The Supreme Court in its 1988 ruling in ‘Chetak Construction Ltd. vs. Om Prakash’ said, “A litigant cannot be permitted choice of the forum,” and that every attempt at forum shopping “must be crushed with a heavy hand.”
  • Most common law countries use the “forum non-conveniens” principle to prevent forum shopping, which gives the court discretionary powers to refuse to exercise its jurisdiction over a matter where another court, or forum, may more conveniently hear a case. Using this power, the court can dismiss a case in the interests of justice and the parties while allocating it to the appropriate bench.