U.S. Court of Federal Claims

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims, formerly the U.S. Claims Court, was established in 1982 as the successor to the trial division of the Court of Claims, which had been in existence since 1855. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has nationwide jurisdiction over a variety of cases, including tax refunds, federal taking of private property for public use, constitutional and statutory rights of military personnel and their dependents, back-pay demands from civil servants claiming unjust dismissal, persons injured by childhood vaccines, and federal government contractors suing for breach of contract. Most suits against the government for money damages in excess of $10,000 must be tried here. However, the district courts have exclusive jurisdiction over tort claims (a civil wrong or breach of duty) and concurrent jurisdiction over tax refunds.

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims also hears appeals of decisions of the Indian Claims Commission and has jurisdiction to review certain cases involving federal government contractor disputes. Either house of Congress may refer to the chief judge a claim for which there is no legal remedy, seeking findings and a recommendation as to whether there is an equitable basis upon which Congress itself should compensate the claimant. Review of decisions in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims lies in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The 16 judges of the U.S. Claims Court are appointed for terms of 15 years by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The court's headquarters are in Washington, D.C., but cases are heard at other locations convenient to the parties involved.