Territorial Limits of Service

Jurisdiction can be acquired by the voluntary appearance of the party on whom process would otherwise have to be served, or by attachment, within the territorial ambit of the court’s jurisdiction, of property of the party.  A foreign corporation may be sued for an admiralty tort in any district court of the United States where it has property that might be subjected to a writ of foreign attachment.  As between districts having concurrent jurisdiction of a libel in personam, it is not an abuse of process for the libellant to select the one in which security may be by way of a foreign attachment, and whether the districts are distant from each other or adjoining is immaterial.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern the method of service of process in admiralty actions, as well as service of process on the United States in all civil actions to which it is party.

In rem process and maritime attachment and garnishment process may be served only within the district.  Otherwise, the full scope of the Federal Rule governing service of process applies to admiralty proceedings, extending the personal jurisdiction of the admiralty court to any defendant who is properly served under that Rule.  Thus, process in admiralty suits may run as far as process in suits generally, and a party will be within a court’s jurisdiction for service of process where service may be accomplished by the methods authorized by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

In forfeiture cases, process in rem may be served within the district or outside the district when authorized by statute.


Inside Territorial Limits of Service