When a suit is filed in a particular court, it must be determined whether that court has authority to hear the case. Usually, this authority is granted by statute, constitution, or a political leader in the country in which the court sits. A court may only adjudicate cases if it has authorization to do so. The term "court jurisdiction" refers to the power of a court to oversee a certain case and to issue any rulings or orders associated with the case.
Deciding whether a court has been empowered to hear a case often involves analyzing whether it has personal or subject matter jurisdiction. Personal, or personam, court jurisdiction is present when a court has authority to adjudicate a case involving certain people or entities. It’s often established when a plaintiff or defendant has a significant connection to the court territory. Connections may include living in or doing business in the territory as well as engaging in a transaction or being part of a controversy that occurred within the territory.
When a court has been empowered to hear the particular type of issue at hand, subject matter jurisdiction exists. For instance, a family law court may be authorized to oversee proceedings relating to child custody, divorce, child support payments, and the like. If a prosecutor tried to bring a criminal court trial before a family law judge, subject matter jurisdiction may not exist. The criminal case would probably need to be brought in front of a criminal court with power to render a decision in the case. It’s possible for two or more courts to have court jurisdiction in one case, a phenomenon known as concurrent jurisdiction.
Court jurisdiction can also be divided into appellate and original jurisdiction. Appellate jurisdiction is granted to superior courts that are set up for the purpose of correcting errors made in lower courts. Their review is generally limited to examining cases for mistakes made by lower courts.
On the other hand, courts with original jurisdiction have been given the power to hear the case in the first place. These courts are often categorized as either general or special courts. A special court has been given authority to hear specific kinds of cases. For instance, a tax court may be designated to hear tax issues and a bankruptcy court may be delegated authority to hear bankruptcy issues. A court with general jurisdiction is a trial court that has been empowered to hear any type of case that isn’t reserved for a special court.