Cyber Law - Can My South Dakota Business Be Sued in Hawaii?


The Internet connects you to countless potential customers worldwide. While this is an exciting prospect, some businesses fail to manage their websites in a way that minimizes the chance of being subjected to out-of-state jurisdiction in the event of a legal dispute. Below are factors to consider as you maintain your website. 

1. Websites which are directed at customers in a particular state increase the chance of being answerable in that state. A website targeted to a particular state population shows willingness to incur the risks and benefits of doing business with that population, even if that means being answerable out-of-state.

2. A website's degree of interactivity matters. A passive website with merely descriptive information about a product doesn't weigh in favor of out-of-state jurisdiction as much as an interactive website with features that invite and enable exchange between business and customer, such as a purchase feature.

3. Notices and customer consent play a role. You can have a say in the matter by notifying website visitors of your selection of a particular forum for legal disputes. You can also condition online transactions on consent to the forum of your choice. 

No single factor predominates. To ensure you understand the jurisdictional implications of your website, it is best to consult with an attorney.