May lenders to an Argentine consortium that won a concession to furnish sewer and water in Buenos Aires enforce choice of forum clauses against an outfit that succeeded to the concession after the first one went belly up? Perhaps, the Second Circuit held yesterday.
In Aguas Lenders Recovery Group LLC v. Suez, S.A., No. 08-1589-cv (2d Cir. Oct. 23, 2009), a collection of lenders formed the Aguas Lenders Recovery Group and used ALRG to sue Agua y Saneamientos Argentios, S. A., to recover money that the lenders loaned years before to the original concession-holder, Aguas Argentinas, S.A. ALRG alleged that Agua & Saneamientos owed the funds as the "successor" to Aguas Argentinas. The district court dismissed under the forum non conveniens doctrine, which allows U.S. courts to require plaintiffs to bring suit in another country.
The Second Circuit reversed. The panel wrote that the successor theory, if viable, would bind Aguas y Saneamientos to the contracts between Aguas Argentinas and the lenders. That included the clauses that called for venue in New York and waived any forum non defense to suit in New York. The court remanded the case for a ruling on whether New York or Argentine law applies and whether Agua y Saneamientos counts as Aguas Argetinas's legal successor.