United States Claims Court

United States Claims Court


Hears claims from private parties against the federal government. The Court of Claims was established in 1855 to address claims stemming from war debts. The court was renamed by the Federal Court Improvement Act of 1982. Examples of the kinds of cases currently heard by the claims court include claims arising out of governmental contracts, injuries caused by official negligence, and claims by either civilians or military personnel for back or retirement pay. The court originally possessed appellate jurisdiction over cases coming from the Indian Claims Commission. This appellate authority was reassigned in 1982 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Judicial Organization).


A number of cases are referred directly by Congress. The court consists of 16 judges appointed by the president for staggered fifteen-year terms. The judges preside over cases individually except in cases that are congressional referrals. The court is headquartered in Washington, D.C., although it may convene anywhere in the country.

See Also

Legislative Court (Judicial Organization).

Analysis and Relevance

The United States Claims Court provides a means by which claims against the federal government may be resolved. Since the federal government is immune from this kind of suit without its consent, these actions require an unusual process. The claims court is an alternative to congressional consideration of these matters. If the court finds that a party is entitled to an award, however, Congress must specifically appropriate the funds to pay the claim. Final judgments of the claims court may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of United States Claims Court from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

United States Claims Court

Introduction to United States Claims Court

United States Claims Court, in the federal judiciary system, court established by Congress in 1982 as the successor in all matters to the Court of Claims. The court decides on claims against the U.S. arising out of a contract with the federal government or from a congressional enactment or federal executive order. It has original jurisdiction to render judgment on claims such as for compensation for the taking of property, back pay and retirement pay by civilian and military personnel, and refund of federal income and excise taxes. Judgments of the court are final unless reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The U.S. Claims Court consists of 16 judges, including one who is designated the chief judge, appointed for 15-year terms by the president with the consent of the Senate. Sessions are held in Washington, D.C.” (1)


Notes and References

Guide to United States Claims Court

United States Claims Court: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about United States Claims Court. This part provides references, in relation to United States Claims Court, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about United States Claims Court by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about United States Claims Court and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about United States Claims Court or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to United States Claims Court and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting United States Claims Court. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about United States Claims Court should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to United States Claims Court when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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