Choice of Law in an Oregon project? Not in THIS House!2020-04-23T00:25:19+00:00
Choice of Law in an Oregon project? Not in THIS House!

If you look through the general conditions (or back page provisions) of your standard construction contract, you might be surprised to see a “choice of law” provision.  This provision is a term in the contract that states that the law of another jurisdiction applies to disputes arising from the work performed or obligations incurred under the construction contract.  For example, a construction contract for a house being built in Portland, Oregon could contain a provision that in the event of a dispute between the owner and builder, Washington law will apply.  A choice of law provision may be included for a variety reasons such as an out-of-state contractor, or an out-of-state  developer, the parties’ use of an unreviewed, standard form contract, or more favorable laws for the drafting partyin other jurisdictions.  Whatever the reason, for projects built in Oregon, cherry-picking the law of another state is off the table.

Disputes arising from construction contracts for work performed primarily in Oregon will always be decided under Oregon law.  In fact, where a construction contract includes any provision that requires the application of the law of another state, that provision is void and unenforceable.  This applies not only to cases brought in Oregon state courts, but it also applies to arbitrations or other dispute resolution proceedings. Because the state of Oregon has an interest in applying its own laws to buildings built in Oregon and occupied by Oregonians, the Oregon legislature has resolved choice of law conflicts in construction contracts by favoring Oregon law.  Therefore, regardless of what the contract says, if your project is in Oregon, Oregon law will apply.

Although it is still imperative to have an attorney fully review your construction contracts to ensure that you are not limiting or restricting your rights in other ways, as far as choice of law is concerned, Oregon has you covered.



Ball Janik LLP was founded in 1982 with six lawyers and a four-person support staff in Portland, Oregon. Since our firm’s inception, we have expanded our capabilities, our professionals, and geographic footprint. What started as a firm focused in real property and land use (known then as Ball Janik & Novack), has grown to include the insights of a team of 30-plus attorneys, with a combined six centuries of experience, and capabilities including Real Estate and Land Use, Construction Defect, Commercial Litigation, Insurance Recovery, Construction and Design, Employment, Finance and Corporate, Public Agencies and Schools, and Community Associations. With offices in Florida and Oregon, our regional growth has earned us a national reputation for upholding the rights of our clients.

Ball Janik LLP has been recognized by Chambers USA, U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®, The Best Lawyers in America©, and Corporate International. Ball Janik LLP’s success and integrity have repeatedly made it one of “Oregon’s Most Admired Professional Firms,” according to the Portland Business Journal’s survey results of CEOs throughout the region.

Heather J. Oden
Oregon , Portland
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