Can the Location of a Computer Server Be enough to Confer Jurisdiction over International Defendants? Yes. Maybe.
In any international dispute our firm takes on, the first level of analysis will almost always center on the location of the parties and where the dispute arose.
If there is no jurisdictional basis for a lawsuit in the U.S., then– if you’re on the plaintiff side– the case is referred out to our network of international lawyers.
If we’re defending you, then there’s a good chance the case will be dismissed in the absence of a valid jurisdictional nexus.
Over the years, I’ve seen creative ways in which U.S. lawyers have attempted to assert jurisdiction over international defendants.
The most recent attempt raises the bar in what’s state-of-the-art.
As reported in this ABA Law Journal article, U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia is claiming that the location of computer servers in his district is enough to confer jurisdiction on international defendants.
According to MacBride, he has jurisdiction in most securities fraud cases because the servers for the EDGAR database of the Securities and Exchange Commission are located in his district.
And because the backbone of the Internet runs through northern Virginia, MacBride has pursued many other types of international actions with increasing regularity.
While this tactic is not without its controversy, the U.S. has a good record of bringing foreign defendants to the U.S. to face trial, according to MacBride.
That may be true.
But only time will tell whether jurisdiction-by-computer-server will continue to gain traction as a valid basis to assert jurisdiction over international defendants.