Thomas Kallay

Document Type



The ability of a California court to assert jurisdiction over business enterprises currently depends upon how the court characterizes the nature and extent of the business's activities within the state. If the in-state business activities of a particular concern are extensive, California courts will exercise all-encompassing general jurisdiction over the cause of action, but if the activities are insufficient to warrant the exercise of general jurisdiction, which has been invariably the case, the court will then turn to a consideration of limited jurisdiction, which jurisdiction depends upon the quality and nature of the business's activities in the forum in relation to the particular cause of action at issue. The author suggests that general- limited jurisdiction is neither a sound theory nor a useful analytical tool. The article notes the historical origins of this two-fold approach, compares it with the current decisions of the United States Supreme Court dealing with a state's ability to gain personal jurisdiction over out-of-state businesses, and suggests viable alternatives to the current California jurisdictional approach. Professor Kallay ultimately concludes that the main focus in jurisdictional questions should not be decided by this two-tier analysis but instead should follow the requirements set down by this nation's Supreme Court in Shaffer v. Heitner: jurisdiction must be evaluated solely by the relationships between the litigation, the forum and the defendant.