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Last update: 17-08-2004
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Jurisdiction of the courts - General Information

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This page is now obsolete. The update is currently being prepared and will be available in the European e-Justice Portal.

Which court is the right one for your lawsuit?

If you want to initiate legal proceedings, you will have to identify the court that is competent to deal with your case or, in other words, has jurisdiction. If you use the wrong court or if there is a dispute over the question of jurisdiction you run the risk of a considerable delay in the proceedings or even of a dismissal of your case because of a lack of jurisdiction.

Imagine a situation in which you are in dispute with a company, a professional person, your employer, a member of your family or somebody else in your own country or abroad. Once the efforts at settling the dispute amicably have failed you may want to bring a court action against the other party. But how do you know which court to turn to? Is it the court of the place where the defendant lives? Or the court where the contractual obligation was to be performed? Do the rules of jurisdiction depend on the nature of the claim at issue (contract, damages)?

All the Member States have different rules of jurisdiction that determine the distribution of competence among the courts on their territory. Click on the flag of each Member State and you will find useful information on the legislation on jurisdiction in the area of civil and commercial law in that country.

If a court case has an international dimension and involves, for example, parties domiciled in different Member States the rules that tell you the courts of which Member State have jurisdiction are laid down in a European Regulation adopted in 2000. To find out more, click on the "Community law" icon.

There is also an international convention, concluded in 1988, governing jurisdiction in cases between Member States of the European Union and some non-EU countries that are parties to the convention. To find out more, click on the "International law" icon.

Last update: 17-08-2004

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