State jurisdiction is the power of a state under international law to govern persons and property by its municipal law

“State jurisdiction is the power of a state under international law to govern persons and property by its municipal law”.


Understanding International Law?

International law is the entire set up and arrangement of legal rules and regulations that are relevant between sovereign states and such other entities as have been granted international personality. In general parlance, international law is merely the deposit of rules that are followed by the countries while dealing with each other. The basic explanation should be appended with other intricate explanations such as – Is international also enforced by the police and courts just like any other law in the United States? Where can the rules of international law are traced? DO we have them mentioned somewhere? Lastly, what is the procedure of international law enforcement if the world government does not exist? International law regulates the associations, dealings and terms among states at all times – be it peace or war (international law). International law applies to all the states and does not segregate application on account of it being democratic or totalitarian. International law is not like State jurisdiction and therefore regularly lacks the mechanisms of proper control and sanctions to guarantee states’ observance.

International law includes both – treaty law and customary law

Customary law is binding on all States, whether or not they have signed a certain treaty.

Treaty law is based on conventions (i.e. treaties each state has signed and ratified).

At the time of shifting any law enforcement to the international dominion from the standards of domestic domain, there is increase in the complexities dramatically.


United States has a huge body of law to govern people. There is evolvement of laws and its amendment takes place to demonstrate what shall result of the nation.

State jurisdiction is amongst the significant and critical discussions in the contemporary international law. The implication of this subject and its undeviating consequence in the international dealings has augmented international interest in state jurisdiction. Also, this increase in the interest level has formed a novel and contemporary understanding of the entire underlying principles state jurisdiction thus reflecting worldwide disposition rather than national idiosyncrasy.

It has been evidenced historically that the presence of state jurisdiction in its fundamental operation symbolized by territoriality was coexisting along with the appearance of international law in its typical impression. In addition to it, there was immense necessity for the international law that is neonate to receive its trustworthiness and sustenance in states because it had to establish its efficiency as the government that is taking care of international relations and highlight its aptitude to supply constancy and security. So it has been the major and vital policy further than the institution of typical international law to give the elements to the states that were essential for their survival.

The major issue that may come up due to slender state jurisdiction’s application is the lawful disagreement amongst jurisdictions. This disagreement can be positive or negative. At one side, positive conflict will show up when two or more states assume jurisdictions over the same crime. On the other side, negative conflict can occur when none of the involved states practices its right and assert jurisdiction to prosecute the criminals.

A state jurisdiction can be sub-divided into smaller segments. Every state possesses its personal and individual laws. Also, they have their own area of control. But at the same time, there exist state supreme courts, and separate jurisdictions within smaller geographic areas like our cities and counties that have codes and municipal laws. There is election of people of local towns to assist in administering the county and government in the city. Those people are elected who focus and direct their vision towards creating and appointing others so that they are able to administer our laws. Therefore, as civilians who are meticulous, we should know the details of creation of law and their procedure of execution. It is a part of our responsibility for participating in creation of the law, and in being able to uphold the law.

We can understand the applicability of the state law to people and property in general. The Criminal law is an element of the code of state. If in case a murder takes place due to a deliberate intention, the murderers are subject to murder in the first degree which is also called as felony. The parameter of murder can be found by the citizens and they can trace their own laws. The law mentions the number of the case, and is mostly explained through a highlighted area and a marker which indicates the amendment that been made in the recent times indicating any amendments that have recently been made. In addition, there are certain penalties that are connected if at all the law is broken or neglected. Ere will also be a series of penalties associated with breaking that law.

Jurisdiction is the state’s power with which it is able to influence people, property, and situations in region and domain. These powers can be exercised by any of the acts – legislative, executive, or judicial actions. Most often than not, international law deals with concerns in relation to criminal law and fundamentally and necessarily sets aside civil jurisdiction to be catered to by the national control. As per the principle of territory, the states enjoy special powers, rights and weight for dealing with issues that relate to criminal matters that arise within the territories of that state; this particular standard has been customized and altered so as to allow one state officials to take steps and proceed in certain situations within another state. The principle of nationality allows that a country can implement criminal jurisdiction on all of the citizens who are accused of committing any sort of criminal evil doings in another state. If we see the past history, this particular principle has shown its close association with systems of civil-law than with the systems of common-law, although its utilization in systems of common-law showed a rise during the late years of the 20th century. Ships and aircraft have the nationality of the state whose flag they fly or in which they are registered and are subject to its jurisdiction.

The principle of passive personality grants permit to the states, in some of the restricted and limited cases, to argue and assert the jurisdiction for trying a foreign national for those activities of wrong doing or for offenses which were committed abroad but has caused an effect to its own citizens. United States has used this principle to put terrorists on trial and even to arrest the de facto leader of Panama, Manuel Noriega, who was consequently condemned by an American court for trafficking of cocaine, racketeering, and causing money laundering. The principle shows up in numerous conventions. It also appeared in the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages (1979), the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons (1973), and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984). The protective principle is contained in the conventions of hostages and aircraft-hijacking and the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel (1994). This principle can be called upon by a state. This can be done in situation where a foreigner commits an operation abroad and such act is deemed prejudicial to the interest of that state, as separate from damaging and hurting the citizen’s interest (the passive personality principle). Lastly, the principle of universality permits for the declaration statement of jurisdiction in the situations and cases in which the assumed offense may be put on trial by all of the states. Examples of such crimes are – crimes during war, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace, piracy and slavery[1].

There is presence of Jurisdictional immunity in some of the contexts. If we notice, diplomatic personnel enjoy imperviousness from being prosecuted in such a state where they execute their operation. Way back in 1960s, it was predetermined by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations that the immunity levels fluctuate as per the rank of the official.

Personal jurisdiction originates from the concept of territory. This means that personal jurisdiction can be gained over a party by a court in a situation if this party is connected to the geographic area of the location of the court. Conventionally, this link and association was met by the existence of the defendant in that particular state where the court executed from. From the time of later years of the nineteenth century, philosophies and ideas of personal jurisdiction have extended further than the concept of territory, and personal jurisdiction over defendants can be gained by the courts on many grounds. Nevertheless, the basis of territory remains a dependable direction for the establishment of personal jurisdiction[2].

An individual who is facing a civil claim can file a suit in such a court which is located in the home state. If in case the defendant stays in the same state it becomes easy for the court to gain personal jurisdiction. In this case, the plaintiff should merely serve the defendant with a summons as well as a replica copy of the grievance that was filed by the plaintiff with the court. After the accomplishment of this one, the court shall have personal jurisdiction over both the parties involved – plaintiff and the defendant. In case the defendant does not lie in the same state, the defendant may be served by the plaintiff with the papers of the process at the time the defendant shows up in the state.

In a situation where the defendant stays in the exteriors of the state and has no plans to come back to the state, there are other ways with which the court can gain personal jurisdiction. A good number of states have a Long-Arm Statute. This kind of statute permits personal jurisdiction to be gained by the court over a defendant who is out-of-state who (1) carries out business in the state, (2) entrusts a tort within the state, (3) commend a tort externally in the state that leads to an injury contained by the state, or (4) owns, uses, or possesses real property within the state.

There have been disputes in concern if there can be use of state long-arm statutes for the purpose of obtaining personal jurisdiction as far as defendant from out-of-state is concerned. With the appearance of the Internet like a means of communication, generating ideas and sell products has led to disputes over whether state long-arm statutes can be used to acquire personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant. In the case of Zippo Manufacturing v. Zippo Dot Com, 952 F. Supp.1119 (W.D.Pa.1997), a U.S. District Court proposed that a long-arm statute could be used only when the defendant has either actively marketed a product or the web site has a degree of interactivity that suggests the website seeks to do business. Conversely, a passive web site, where information is merely posted, would not subject a person to the reach of a long-arm statute[3].

In Pavlovich v. Superior Court, 59 Cal.4th 262, 58 P.3d 2, 127 Cal.Rptr.2d 329 (Cal. 2002), the California Supreme Court ruled that an out-of-state web site operator who had posted software that allowed users to decrypt and copy digital versatile discs (DVDs) containing motion pictures could not be sued in California state court. The operator, who lived in Texas, did not solicit business or have any commercial contact with anyone in California. The court relied on the Zippo sliding scale and concluded that Pavlovich fell into the passive category. The web site “merely posts information and has no interactive features. There is no evidence in the record suggesting that the site targeted California. Indeed, there is no evidence that any California resident ever visited, much less downloaded” the software. Even if he had known that the software would encourage Piracy, this substantive issue did not affect the threshold question of jurisdiction. Therefore, the lawsuit had to be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction[4].

The Minnesota Supreme Court took up the question of Internet jurisdiction in the context of a Defamation lawsuit in Griffis v. Luban, 646 N.W.2d 527 (Minn. 2002). Katherine Griffis, a resident of Alabama, filed a defamation lawsuit against Marianne Luban, a Minnesota resident, in Alabama state court. Griffis won a default judgment of $25,000 for statements that Luban had made on the Internet. Luban elected not to appear in the Alabama proceeding, and Griffis then filed her judgment in the Minnesota county where Luban resided. Luban then filed a lawsuit challenging the judgment for want of personal jurisdiction. The Minnesota Supreme Court concluded that the key jurisdiction question was whether Luban had targeted the state of Alabama when she made her defamatory statements. The Court found that while Luban knew that Griffis lived in Alabama, she had not “expressly aimed” her statements at the state of Alabama. Instead, she had published these statements to a specialized Internet newsgroup, one that only had Griffis as a member from Alabama. The court stated: “The fact that messages posted to the newsgroup could have been read in Alabama, just as they could have been read anywhere in the world, cannot suffice to establish Alabama as the focal point of the defendant’s conduct.” Therefore, Griffis had not established personal jurisdiction over Luban in Alabama, and the Minnesota state courts were not obliged to enforce the Alabama judgment[5].

While driving inside the state if an out-of-state defendant caused an injury, the court may gain personal jurisdiction over the defendant on the theory that the defendant consented to such jurisdiction by driving on the state’s roads. Many states have statutes that create such Implied Consent to personal jurisdiction.

A corporation being the defendant, then it is always subject to personal jurisdiction in the courts of the state in which it is incorporated. If the corporation has sufficient contacts in other states, courts in those states may hold that the out-of-state corporation has consented to personal jurisdiction through its contacts with the state. For example, a corporation that solicits business in other states or maintains offices in other states may be subject to suit in those states, even if the corporation is not headquartered or incorporated in those states. A corporation’s transaction of business in a foreign state is a sufficient contact to establish personal jurisdiction[6].

State courts may use additional means to gain personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants for actions concerning real property located within the state. A state court may gain personal jurisdiction over all parties, regardless of their physical location, in a dispute over the title to real property. This type of personal jurisdiction is called in rem, or “against the thing.” Personal jurisdiction over all parties interested in the real property is gained not through the parties but through the presence of the land in the court’s jurisdiction[7].

When out-of-state defendants are not subject to personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff may be forced to sue the defendant in the state in which the defendant resides or in the state where the injury occurred. For example, a plaintiff who was injured outside his or her home state may have to file suit in the defendant’s home state or in the state where the injury occurred if the defendant has no plans to enter the plaintiff’s home state.

Subject matter jurisdiction is in courts of general jurisdiction over the majority of civil claims, including actions involving torts, contracts, unpaid debt, and Civil Rights violations. The claims or controversies reserved for courts of special jurisdiction cannot be judged under courts of general jurisdiction since it doesn’t have subject matter jurisdiction. For example, in a state having a probate court, all claims involving wills and estates must be brought in the probate court, not in a court of general jurisdiction[8].

In some cases, a special administrative board will first hear about the claim before it can be heard by a court. For example, in most states a workers’ compensation board will first hear the Workers’ Compensation claim before it can be heard in a court of general jurisdiction.

The amount in controversy is another consideration to be made in establishing subject matter jurisdiction. This is the total of all claims, counterclaims, and cross-claims in the suit. “A counterclaim is a claim by a defendant against a plaintiff; a cross-claim is a claim by a plaintiff against another plaintiff, or by a defendant against another defendant”[9]. In most jurisdictions, the amount in controversy has to exceed certain limit; otherwise the case would be heard by a court other than a court of general jurisdiction. This court is usually called a Small Claims Court. The rules of small claims court limit the procedures that are available to the parties so that the court can obtain a simple and speedy resolution to the dispute.


State jurisdiction demonstrates its presence in a large diversity of cases. An individual may carry an action of tort in state court. This refers that he will be able to file a suit against someone else injuring him negligently or intentionally. Any case can be brought forward in front of the state court. Such cases like a law case related to a family, a case pertaining to crime, a contract case that may have been breached, and case related to small claims. The cases that cannot be appealed for in the state court are the ones where the federal government possesses exclusive jurisdiction over: cases. These may be the ones that may be caused due to bankruptcy and case related to federal tax laws.

State jurisdiction is the power of a state under international law to govern persons and property by its municipal law. All of the segments personal or public are dealt by the laws placed by the municipal laws of the state. It can be derived from the above discussion that the state jurisdiction is quite powerful and has the authorities that can be used to influence and administer various people and the entire property. This is done effectively through municipal laws.


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[6]Jurisdiction Retrieved 03 31, 2013,

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