court rules: an overview
Courts of general jurisdiction have the power to hear claims as long as there is a controversy among parties with diverse interests and conflicting claims. There are additional requirements placed on the controversy depending on what type of court the claim is filed in. Not all claims can be filed in all courts. Each court has certain defined jurisdiction and categories of disputes may be excluded because of the amount at stake. For instance, in federal courts, if jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship, the amount in controversy must exceed $75,000. (See 28 U.S.C. § 1332).
The types of disputes that can be brought before a court are commonly laid down by statute. Court rules, some of them explicitly set out in codes issued by the court and others established by precedent, set other limits on when disputes can be brought before the court and how. Generally, controversies must be justiciable. A controversy is not justiciable if it predominantly involves a political question; the answer to which should really be left to the legislative or executive branch. Additionally, courts will generally not decide cases that are not ripe -- that is, what is actually in controversy has not yet become concrete.