Last week, on a cold and snowy winter evening, Prof. Peter Hay, Prof. Giesela Rühl, members of the Deutsch-Amerikanische Juristen-Vereinigung (DAJV e.V.) – German-American Lawyers’ Association, as well as students of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin gathered at our #Werkstatt to discuss recent developments in US civil procedure, likely to create significant concern for foreign companies investing or trading in the USA.
Peter Hay, who Philipp calls his academic “grandfather”, contributed his observations on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the Supreme Court modified the conditions under which U.S. courts have jurisdiction over lawsuits against foreign companies.
The Court held that, although the defendant company Norfolk was incorporated and registered in Virginia, the Pennsylvania courts had jurisdiction over the dispute. Norfolk was registered to do business in Pennsylvania, which has a corporate registration statute requiring corporations to consent to the general jurisdiction of its courts regardless of where the underlying lawsuit arose. Hereby, the Supreme Court reversed the prior decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which had found the statute to violate the due process clause of the Constitution. If a business is registered in a state which imposes such statutory requirements, anyone can bring a lawsuit in that state for any reason, even if the case has no other jurisdictional connection to that state.