Detroit, MI asked in Civil Litigation for Kansas

Q: What is lack of subject- matter

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1 Lawyer Answer
Brian Lehman
Brian Lehman

A: I'm guessing you meant: "What is lack of subject-matter jurisdiction?"

When a court hears your case, there are three questions it must initially ask:

1. Does it have subject-matter jurisdiction? Subject-matter jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter.

2. Does it have personal jurisdiction? Personal jurisdiction is the power of a court over the parties in the case.

3. Is this the right venue to decide the case? The right or proper venue is where it is convenient for the parties and court to have the case. For example, the right venue may be where a contract was executed or is to be performed, or where an accident took place. However, the parties may agree to a different venue for convenience (such as where most witnesses are located). You can waive venue.

In order to hear and decide a case, a court must have (1) jurisdiction over the subject matter involved (subject matter jurisdiction); (2) jurisdiction over the parties involved (personal jurisdiction); and (3) proper venue.

To go back to your question, a court that lacks subject matter jurisdiction lacks the power to hear that case. For example, federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and may only exercise jurisdiction where it is specifically authorized by federal statute. Without a federal statute (in addition to the power of Congress to pass that statute under the Constitution), the court will lack subject matter jurisdiction.

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