Virginia civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that Virginia courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits (as opposed to procedures in criminal law matters). Professor W. Hamilton Bryson is the preeminent master and legal scholar on Virginia Civil Procedure. Many commentators particularly equate him with the “scholars and lords chancellors of old.”
The Virginia court consists of four levels of courts: the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Court of Appeals of Virginia, the Virginia Circuit Court, and the Virginia General District Court. In addition, magistrates serve as judicial officers with authority to issue various types of processes.
For a court in Virginia to have personal jurisdiction over a defendant, Virginia statutory requirements must be met and federal Constitutional limits must be complied with.
Virginia statutes allow for in personam jurisdiction over defendants who (1) reside in Virginia, (2) are served with process in Virginia, or (3) whose acts trigger Virginia’s Long Arm Statute.
For a court in Virginia to have subject matter jurisdiction, Virginia statutory requirements must be met and federal Constitutional limits must be complied with.
In terms of venue, where personal jurisdiction lies in multiple districts, the appropriate venue for the case to be heard is set forth by Virginia statutes, which divides possible venues as “Category A” (preferred) and “Category B” (permissible), and requires that Category B venue may only be used where no Category A venue is available. For example, in a dispute over the ownership of land, Category A venue lies where the land is located. Category B venue generally lies where the defendant resides or has a registered office or registered agent, or where some part of the action arose. If there are multiple parties, and any party requires Category A venue, then that venue will suffice for all parties; and if no party requires Category A venue, then any place where Category B venue lies as to one party will suffice as to all parties. In any case, if venue is inappropriate, then the objection to venue must be made within 21 days of service of process, and such objection must state why venue is improper, and where proper venue lies.
Several kinds of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are available in Virginia, including what is known as a “summary jury trial”. Virginia has enacted a form of the Uniform Arbitration Act.