Bootstrap Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

This doctrine is a rule in the resolution of conflict of laws and it prevents a collateral attack on the jurisdiction of another state's court that has rendered final judgment. This doctrine is based on the principle of res judicata, which prevents a party from litigating a jurisdictional claim which has been already resolved in an earlier, final decision, or where the litigants had an opportunity to raise the issue and challenge the other court’s lack of jurisdiction and failed to do so.

However, this doctrine cannot give effect to a judgment by a court that had no subject-matter jurisdiction, such as in instances where parties cannot, by appearing before a state court, “bootstrap” that court into having jurisdiction over a federal matter. The idea behind the bootstrap doctrine is that a court which had no jurisdiction initially, when the issue is litigated, can lift itself into jurisdiction by its own incorrect but conclusive finding that it does have jurisdiction.