Legal Dictionary

minimum contacts

Legal Definition of minimum contacts

Related terms

Definition of minimum contacts


minimum contacts (uncountable)

  1. (law) In United States civil procedure, the contact required between a party and a state in order for the courts of that state to constitutionally assert personal jurisdiction over that party.

Further reading

Minimum contacts is a term used in the United States law of civil procedure to determine when it is appropriate for a court in one state to assert personal jurisdiction over a defendant from another state. The United States Supreme Court has decided a number of cases that have established and refined the principle that it is unfair for a court to assert jurisdiction over a party unless that party's contacts with the state in which that court sits are such that the party "could reasonably expect to be haled into court" in that state. This jurisdiction must "not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice".

Consent and waiver

Because the need for minimum contacts is a matter of personal jurisdiction (the power of the court to hear the claim with respect to a particular party) instead of subject matter jurisdiction (the power of the court to hear this kind of claim at all), a party can explicitly or implicitly waive their right to object to the court hearing the case. Minimum contacts can be established by consent where a party signs a contract with a forum selection clause, agreeing to litigate in a specified forum.

Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party who wishes to object to the court's assertion of personal jurisdiction must do so at the beginning of legal proceedings, or lose the ability to raise such an objection. Furthermore, a court may request that a party provide evidence that its contacts do not rise to the level which would allow the court to have jurisdiction. The Supreme Court has held that if a party refuses to comply with such a request, the court can deem them to have waived their right to object to jurisdiction.


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