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Internet Jurisdiction – Introduction

What is jurisdiction and why should you care? Jurisdiction is whether a particular court has the power to hear a case. Jurisdiction is often an issue in Internet related cases, since the parties both want to have the case heard in their own back yard. Not only is “home field” advantage a factor, but the costs of not having to travel (or, more importantly, not having to have your lawyers travel) can give you the added resources to see a trial through to the end or leverage settlement negotiations.

There are two types of jurisdiction: personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction. While the parties have the power to waive personal jurisdiction, they cannot waive subject matter jurisdiction. Indeed, if the parties fail to timely assert a lack of personal jurisdiction at the outset of a case, they may be deemed to have waived the issue. Conversely, either party can raise the issue of subject matter jurisdiction at any time.

Because a lack of subject matter jurisdiction may wrest a case from a judge, even after years of work, judges are rightly fanatical about assuring subject matter jurisdiction exists before proceeding with any other matters. To avoid having your case tossed out of court, it is often advisable to provide the court with multiple reasons why it has subject matter jurisdiction. Therefore, even if the other side is able to kick out one of your reasons near the end of trial, the court still has justification for ruling on the case.

Brett Trout

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