Waiving Trial by Jury in a Contract: What You Need to Know in Texas

Bench Trial in Texas

When entering into a contract in Texas, it's not uncommon to come across a clause that requires the parties to waive their right to a trial by jury. While this provision might seem like a minor detail amidst the sea of legal language, it can have significant implications should a dispute arise. Understanding what it means to waive a jury trial and the legal considerations in Texas is crucial for any party entering into a contract.

What Does Waiving a Jury Trial Mean?

Waiving a jury trial means that, in the event of a legal dispute, the parties agree to have their case decided by a judge rather than a jury. This is known as a bench trial. Jury waivers are common in commercial contracts, real estate agreements, employment contracts, and many other types of legal agreements.

Why Do Parties Waive Jury Trials?

There are several reasons why parties might choose to waive their right to a jury trial:

  1. Efficiency: Bench trials are typically quicker than jury trials, as they do not require the time-consuming process of selecting a jury.
  2. Predictability: Some parties prefer the predictability of a judge’s decision, who may have more experience and expertise in specific legal issues compared to a jury of peers who may have little to no legal background.
  3. Cost: Jury trials can be more expensive due to the longer duration and the need for more extensive preparation and presentation.

Enforceability of Jury Waivers in Texas

In Texas, waiving a jury trial is generally enforceable if certain conditions are met. Texas courts will uphold a jury waiver clause if it is entered into knowingly and voluntarily. Here are key considerations for enforceability:

  1. Clear and Conspicuous Language: The waiver must be clearly stated in the contract. It should be written in a way that is understandable and not buried in fine print.
  2. Mutual Agreement: Both parties must agree to the waiver. It cannot be one-sided or imposed unilaterally.
  3. Opportunity to Bargain: There should be evidence that both parties had the opportunity to negotiate the terms of the contract, including the jury waiver clause.
  4. Representation by Counsel: While not always required, the presence of legal counsel for both parties can support the argument that the waiver was made knowingly and voluntarily.

Legal Precedents in Texas

Texas courts have upheld jury waiver clauses in several cases. For example, in In re Prudential Insurance Company of America, the Texas Supreme Court held that pre-dispute contractual jury waivers are enforceable if they are made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently, and if there is no evidence of fraud, oppression, or overreaching.

Practical Tips for Enforcing Jury Waivers

  1. Highlight the Clause: Make sure the jury waiver clause is prominently displayed in the contract. Use bold or italicized text to ensure it stands out and is differentiated from the text before and after the waiver clause.
  2. Explain the Implications: Both parties should understand what they are agreeing to. Consider providing a brief explanation of the implications of waiving a jury trial, such as the fact that the trier of fact will be a judge as opposed to a jury panel of six peers.
  3. Legal Review: Have the contract reviewed by legal counsel. This can help ensure that the waiver is enforceable and that all parties understand their rights.


Waiving the right to a trial by jury in a contract is a significant decision that can impact the resolution of future disputes. In Texas, such waivers are generally enforceable if they meet specific legal standards. When drafting or entering into a contract with a jury waiver clause, it’s essential to ensure that the waiver is clear, mutually agreed upon, and made knowingly and voluntarily. Consulting with legal counsel can help parties navigate these requirements and protect their interests.

By understanding the nuances of jury waivers, parties can make informed decisions and foster smoother contractual relationships. Whether you are a business owner, a real estate investor, or an individual entering into a significant agreement, knowing your rights and the implications of waiving a jury trial is vital.

If you have questions about jury waivers or need assistance with contract review, contact a qualified attorney who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.

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