Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2006


Exorbitant jurisdiction


Civil Procedure | Jurisdiction


Exorbitant territorial jurisdiction in civil cases comprises those classes of jurisdiction, although exercised validly under a country's rules, that nonetheless are unfair to the defendant because of a lack of significant connection between the sovereign and either the parties or the dispute. The United States, France, and most of the rest of the world exercise a good deal of exorbitant jurisdiction so defined. In the United States, an emphasis on power derived from territoriality has led to jurisdictional restraint in some respects, but has also allowed general jurisdiction based solely on transient physical presence, the attachment of property, or extensive business activities unrelated to the cause of action. In contrast, the civil law's emphasis on fairness has kept France from developing these exorbitant bases of jurisdiction, but has failed to restrain it from asserting general jurisdiction based solely on the plaintiff's nationality. A number of other countries have added some wrinkles to their own brands of exorbitant jurisdiction. We conclude (1) that although the extent, details, and phrasing of the world's exorbitant bases of jurisdiction differ among nations, there appears to be a common core in the nations' urge to disregard defendants' interests in order to give their own people a way to sue at home, when the forum country will be able to enforce the resulting judgment locally, and (2) that even though exorbitant jurisdiction is thus understandable, the ultimate goal should remain its elimination by international agreement.

Publication Citation

Maine Law Review, vol. 58 (2006)