- Special Masters
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The United States Court of Federal Claims was recreated pursuant to Article I of the United States Constitution in October 1982, by the Federal Courts Improvement Act.(1) The Court consists of sixteen judges nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate for a term of fifteen years.
After 1982, the Court retained all the original jurisdiction of the Court of Claims and continues, uninterrupted, a judicial tradition more than 140 years old. The Court has since been given new equitable jurisdiction in the area of bid protests, as well as jurisdiction in vaccine compensation.
The Court of Federal Claims is authorized to hear primarily money claims founded upon the Constitution, federal statutes, executive regulations, or contracts, express or implied-in-fact, with the United States.
Approximately one-quarter of the cases before the Court involve tax refund suits, an area in which the court exercise concurrent jurisdiction with United States district courts. The cases tend to involve complex factual and statutory construction issues in tax law. Another aspect of the court's jurisdiction involves government contracts. It was within the public contracts jurisdiction that the court was given new equitable authority in late 1996. Contract claims make up over a third of the court's workload. In recent years, the Court's Fifth Amendment takings jurisdiction has included many cases raising environmental and natural resource issues. This category has grown to about ten percent (10%) of the Court's docket. Another large category of cases involve civilian and military pay questions. In addition, the Court hears intellectual property, Indian tribe, and various statutory claims against the United States by individuals, domestic and foreign corporation, states and localities, Indian tribes and Nations, and foreign nationals and governments. The 2,200 plus pending cases involve claims currently estimated in the tens of billions of dollars, making the average claim well over one million dollars. The Court, however, has also efficiently handled numerous smaller claims. Its expertise, in recent years, has been seen as its ability to efficiently handle large, complex, and often technical litigation.