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What Law Governs Forum Selection Clauses

27 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2017  

Symeon C. Symeonides

Willamette University - College of Law

Date Written: August 5, 2017

Abstract

This Article examines how American courts answer the question of which law governs the enforceability and interpretation of forum selection (FS) clauses in cases that have contacts with more than one state. It divides the cases into categories, depending on whether the question is litigated in the court chosen in the FS clause or in another court, and whether or not a choice-of-law clause accompanies the FS clause.

The Article finds that: (1) When the action is filed in the court chosen in the FS clause, all courts apply the internal law of the forum state, without any choice-of-law analysis, both in interpreting the clause and in determining its enforceability; and (2) When the action is filed in another court, most courts apply the internal law of the forum (with or without a choice-of-law analysis) in determining whether the clause is enforceable and the law that governs the contract in interpreting the clause.

The Article explains why the distinction between interpretation and enforceability is necessary, and why the application of forum law to the question of enforceability is appropriate.

Keywords: forum selection, choice of forum, choice of court, jurisdictional clauses, choice of law, conflict of laws, private international law, jurisdiction, party autonomy

JEL Classification: K2, K13, K33, K41

Suggested Citation

Symeonides, Symeon C., What Law Governs Forum Selection Clauses (August 5, 2017). Louisiana Law Review, Vol. 78, No. 4, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3014070

Symeon Symeonides (Contact Author)

Willamette University - College of Law ( email )

245 Winter St. SE
Salem, OR 97301
United States

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