Can Parties Choose Venue in California?

In prior posts, I discussed two unusual California statutes relating to choice-of-law and choice-of-forum provisions in agreements. Choice-of-forum provisions are often confused with choice-of-venue provisions. A choice of forum relates to the place of jurisdiction (e.g., California, Delaware or Nevada) whereas a choice of venue refers to the place or geographic location of trial (e.g., the County of Orange or the City of San Diego). Surprisingly, the California Supreme Court long ago held that venue selection provisions are void. General Acceptance Corp. v. Robinson 207 Cal. 285, 289 (1929). More recently, the Courts of Appeal have followed this holding. See, e.g., Alexander v. Superior Court 114 Cal.App.4th 723 (2003) and Arntz Builders v. Superior Court, 122 Cal. App. 4th 1195 (2004).

One may question why the California courts would refuse to honor the parties’ agreement as to venue. The Court of Appeal in Alexander gave the following answer...

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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