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Can I institute a lawsuit in the US where both parties live, but for a contract of sale of real estate signed in a foreign country by representatives of the parties living in the U.S.?

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Can I institute a lawsuit in the US where both parties live, but for a contract of sale of real estate signed in a foreign country by representatives of the parties living in the U.S.?

It depends on (1) whether the contract itself indicates where disputes shall be litigated, and (2) legislative constraints (if any) regarding the nature of the claim(s) and relief sought in your jurisdiction. Both items are missing in your description.

If the contract has no constrains on the forum for litigation, then by default the parties are allowed to file suit in the US. After all, a contract aims to enforce the parties' intent and rights, not "those of the property". The latter do not even exist.

In re Estate of Wilson (CA appellate court, unpublished, March of 2020) reflects that intent is what matters, regardless of the location of real estate:

[E]ven if Paul erroneously believed he had real properties outside of the United States, the broad, sweeping language of his will makes clear that Paul intended to give Gonzalez all of his property.

State law of the parties' jurisdiction might prevent the court from deciding controversies that involve claims & relief of certain nature, though. As an example, O[regon]RS 14.030 provides:

When the court has jurisdiction of the parties, it may exercise it in respect to any cause of action or suit wherever arising, except for the specific recovery of real property situated without this state, or for an injury thereto.

However, the fact that the claim involves real estate does not preclude altogether a court's jurisdiction. As an example, in Cron v. Zimmer, 296 P.3d 567, 572 (2013) the court asserted jurisdiction because "plaintiffs primarily seek money damages" and "[c]laims for personal property, such as money damages, are transitory in nature, and ORS 14.030 does not prohibit the exercise of jurisdiction".

Nor does ORS 14.030 preclude "relief [which], if granted, would act only on the person of defendant, and not directly on the title to the [real estate] rights" (Id. at 572, brackets added). That is because

[t]he court * * * is without power to act directly upon the titles [of real property outside of Oregon], but it is well settled that in a proper case equity may enter its decree in personam and thereby accomplish indirectly the desired result.

Id, at 573 (citations omitted, italics in original).

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  • Care to articulate the reason(s) or pretext for the downvote? – Iñaki Viggers Apr 4 at 22:12

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