A French court of appeals has ruled that a Facebook user is not bound by the provision which states he is supposed to bring a dispute exclusively before “a state or federal court located in Santa Clara County”. The court has ruled that this provision is contrary to the French Code of Civil Procedure. Under article 48 of this code, such a clause must be very visible.

The same text also provides that such a clause is only valid between businesses, an issue that was not debated (though the claimant was apparently using Facebook for personal and not commercial purposes).

It's the first time a court from a civil law country rules that Facebook' jurisdiction clause is not valid.

In internet law, decisions circulate from country to country and are often cited as "precedents" (remember all those Yahoo! / eBay / Google cases?). The decision thus has implications outside France for Facebook. The fact that the court has ruled that: - FB ToS were obscure - the attention of the user was not drawn to a clause in particular - ToS may have to be read on the screen of a mobile device, which make them even less readable may be used by other tribunals in other countries as an example of previous judicial assessment of the lack of clarity of the ToS.

The case was brought after the account the plaintiff opened in 2007 was suspended in June 2009. Facebook reopened the account with restrictions in January 2010 for a brief period, then definitely deactivated it. Between June 2009 and June 2010, the complainant opened another account using a different e-mail address. This other account was closed up in June 2010. The plaintiff then tried twice to open a different account, without success.