This article explores the nature of public policy limits to the enforcement of forum selection clauses, recently considered by the Supreme Court of Canada in Douez v Facebook. The public policy factors relied on by the plurality of the Court, inequality of bargaining power and the quasi-constitutional nature of the right at issue, possess neither the doctrinal clarity nor the transnational focus necessary to guide the deployment of public policy in this context. Here, I argue for a public policy exception to the enforcement of forum selection clauses based on the doctrine of mandatory overriding rules. This approach would focus on whether a forum selection clause has the effect of avoiding the application of local norms intended to enjoy mandatory application in the transnational context. This conception of public policy would be a more coherent guide to the exercise of courts’ discretion to enforce forum selection clauses in cases like Douez.
Liam W Harris, Understanding public policy limits to the enforceability of forum selection clauses after Douez v Facebook, Journal of Private International Law, volume 15, 2019 – issue 1.