What Law Governs Forum Selection Clauses
27 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 5, 2017
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: Suggested Citation