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  • Jurisdiction

    Jurisdiction refers to the power of a court to make a legally-binding ruling. It is one of the very first subjects that law students encounter in their training.

    There are two flavors of jurisdiction: subject matter and personal. "Subject matter" refers to whether the court can hear a case of this type. In this respect, courts are said to be of "general" or "limited" jurisdiction.

    The New York City Civil Court is a classic example of a court of limited jurisdiction: it can hear cases for money remedies (damages or restitution) for up to $25,000; in-kind remedies (specific restitution, as in give me back my property) worth up to $25,000; and that's pretty much the limit. Lien enforcement for up to $25K also.

    On the personal jurisdiction side, we have two questions: does the court have power over the person, property or status? and has that power been invoked. In the New York City Civil Court, the court has jurisdiction over anyone who resides in the City of New York, or who is employed here. There is a VERY LIMITED long-arm power also. You can sue a person who entered into a transaction in NYC; or who sent goods or services here; or who owns property in the City.

    Some creditors put a clause in the documents accepting NYC Civil Court as the exclusive forum for lawsuits. That clause, by itself, does not help the creditor, because an agreement to hear the case in NYC is invalid unless the case involves more than a million dollars.
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