The original jurisdiction of a court is the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, when a higher court has the power to review a lower court's decision.
The lowest civil court of France, the tribunal de première instance (literally, "Court of First Instance"), has original jurisdiction over most civil matters except areas of specialist exclusive jurisdiction, those being mainly land estates, business and consumer matters, social security, and labor. All criminal matters may pass summarily through the lowest criminal court, the tribunal de police, but each court has both original and limited jurisdiction over certain separate levels of offences:
- juge de proximité ("Magistrate Court"): petty misdemeanors and violations;
- tribunal de police ("Police Court"): gross misdemeanors or summary offences (jurisdiction);
- tribunal correctionnel ("Criminal Court"): felonies or indictable offences generally;
- cour d'assises ("Court of Sessions"): capital and first-degree felonies or major indictable offences, high crimes, crimes against the State.
For the administrative stream, any administrative court has original jurisdiction. However, while the Council of State has supreme appellate jurisdiction for administrative appeals, it also has original jurisdiction on a number of matters brought against national governmental authorities including cases against statutory instruments (executive and ministerial orders) and certain types of administrative decisions. These decisions are made up out of 2/3 Congress's vote.
In India, the Supreme Court has original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. Its exclusive original jurisdiction extends to all cases between the Government of India and the States of India or between Government of India and states on side and one or more states on other side or cases between different states. Original jurisdiction is related to cases which are directly brought to the Supreme Court. Cases which require the interpretation of the constitution or cases relating to the denial of fundamental rights are heard In the supreme court. In case there is a dispute between two or more states or between the union and the states, the Supreme Court decides such cases. In addition, Article 32 of the Constitution of India grants original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court on all cases involving the enforcement of fundamental rights of citizens. It is empowered to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari to enforce them.
The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be invoked by a certificate granted by the High Court concerned under Article 132(1), 133(1) or 134 of the Constitution in respect of any judgement, decree or final order of a High Court in both civil and criminal cases, involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Indian Constitution.
In the United States, courts having original jurisdiction are referred to as trial courts. In certain types of cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has original jurisdiction concurrently with lower courts. The original jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court is governed by Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution and Title 28 of the United States Code, section 1251. Most commonly, original jurisdiction cases involve suits between states as parties, usually over territorial or water rights disputes.
In the federal court system and those of most U.S. states, there are several types of trial courts. That is, there are several specialized courts with original jurisdiction over specific types of matters, and then a court with original jurisdiction over anything not reserved to more specialized courts.
Not all "trial courts" exclusively exercise original jurisdiction. Indeed, in both the federal and most state court systems, the trial courts of "general jurisdiction" hear appeals from trial courts of limited original jurisdiction; many states call these courts "superior courts" for this reason. For example, United States district courts hear appeals from their Bankruptcy Courts (which operate as quasi-independent units of district courts but are constitutionally separate Article I tribunals). Similarly, the Law and Chancery Divisions of the Superior Court of New Jersey hear appeals from New Jersey County Courts; the Pennsylvania Courts of Common Pleas, besides hearing major trials, hear appeals from the minor trial courts (Magistrate Courts in most counties; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have unique systems) and from certain agencies of local (e.g., zoning board) and state governments (e.g., Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board).