Forum Selection Clause Enforceable New Jersey

Forum selection clauses are generally enforced in New Jersey. Caspi v. Microsoft Network, L.L.C., 323 N.J. Super. 118, 122, 732 A.2d 528 (App.Div.1999); Shelter Systems v. Lanni Builders, 263 N.J. Super. 373, 375, 622 A.2d 1345 (App.Div.1993). Nevertheless, such provisions will not be given effect if they are the result of "fraud or coercive bargaining power," or if enforcement of the clause would "be seriously inconvenient for the trial." Shelter Systems, supra, 263 N.J. Super. at 375, 622 A.2d 1345. The latter exception does not apply in cases where geographic distance merely inconveniences production of non-party witnesses; rather, it is reserved for the situation where "trial in the contractual forum will be so gravely difficult and inconvenient that the party will for all practical purposes be deprived of his day in court." Wilfred MacDonald, Inc. v. Cushman, Inc., 256 N.J. Super. 58, 65, 606 A.2d 407 (App.Div.), certif. den'd, 130 N.J. 17, 611 A.2d 655 (1992) (quoting M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1, 18, 92 S. Ct. 1907, 1917, 32 L. Ed. 2d 513, 525 (1972)). Lastly, a court should not enforce a forum selection provision that violates a "strong public policy of the local forum." Shelter Systems, supra, 263 N.J. Super. at 375, 622 A.2d 1345; see also Kubis & Perszyk Assoc. Inc. v. Sun Microsystems, Inc., 146 N.J. 176, 192-93, 680 A.2d 618 (1996) (recognizing public policy considerations espoused by the Franchise Act, and therefore finding forum selection provisions in franchise agreements presumptively invalid); McNeill v. Zoref, 297 N.J. Super. 213, 222-24, 687 A.2d 1052 (App.Div.1997) (holding the same regarding the public policy considerations of the entire controversy doctrine); Param Petroleum Corp. v. Commerce and Indus. Ins. Co., 296 N.J. Super. 164, 170-71, 686 A.2d 377 (App. Div.1997) (holding the same in relation to statutes involving insurance litigation). In New Jersey, the enforceability of forum selection clauses is governed by requirements of notice, Caspi, supra, 323 N.J. Super. at 126, 732 A.2d 528, and reasonableness, see Restatement (Second) of Conflicts of Laws 80 (1969)(revised 1988) (cited in Kubis, supra, 146 N.J. at 188, 680 A.2d 618). Whether these requirements have been met is a question of law, see Caspi, supra, 323 N.J. Super. at 126, 732 A.2d 528, reviewable on appeal on a de novo basis, Manalapan Realty, L.P. v. Twp. Committee of Manalapan, 140 N.J. 366, 378, 658 A.2d 1230 (1995).