Skip to Main Content

Government & Business Relations

Court System

Knowing where the company picks its fights could give the researcher a clue on future action. When the corporation is the accused in a federal case, that means the company has gathered the wrath of the federal government. Corporations can bring a civil case to federal court as the plaintiff to try to challenge a national law or to get an interpretation of a law. You should start your search in the Appeal Courts first, then try the special courts. The type of court should also give you a clue about the issue in dispute.

District Courts

There are 94 US District Courts in all states and territories covering 12 circuits. Start your search in the circuit your company has its headquarters is located. However, a case could be brought in any circuit the event in question happened. The district courts hear cases on civil and criminal matters. Civil cases are disputes such as contracts or agreements and results in a redressing of wrongs. Criminal cases are crimes against the community or personal rights and results in punishment.

Bankruptcy Courts

These courts are distributed throughout the federal districts and are designed to give the debtor company a chance at a “fresh start.” Chapter 11 is for reorganization and Chapter 7 is for liquidation.

Court of International Trade

When there are disputes and questions involving international trade and customs, the corporation can turn to this court in New York City.

Court of Federal Claims

When an enterprise has a claim against the United States government due to disputes over federal contracts or unlawful "takings" of private property by the federal government, then it will meet in Washington D.C.

Court of Appeals

There is a Court of Appeals for each of 12 circuits. Each hears appeals from the district courts located within its circuit as well as appeals from decisions of federal administrative agencies.

Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

This D.C.-based court has nationwide jurisdiction to hear appeals in specialized cases, such as those involving patent laws and cases decided by the Court of International Trade and the Court of Federal Claims.

Tax Court

Not affiliated with the previously mentioned courts, the Tax Court has authority to hear tax disputes concerning notices of deficiency, notices of transferee liability, certain types of declaratory judgment, readjustment and adjustment of partnership items, review of the failure to abate interest, administrative costs, worker classification, and review of certain collection actions. It also issues Tax Memorandums to clarify points of disputes.

Supreme Court

Can hear cases from any of the above courts. If the company you are researching is in this court, you may have already heard about the case in the general press. Once a decision is made in the Supreme Court, there are no further appeals.

Search Aids

Creative Commons   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International License. | Details of our policy