The court has special jurisdiction, spelled out in : it hears claims for money that arise from the United States Constitution, federal statutes, executive regulations, or an express or implied in fact contract with the United States Government (see the Tucker Act). The court has concurrent jurisdiction with U.S. district courts, when the claim is for less than $10,000, by the provisions of . Claims have a statute of limitations of six years from the time the claim first accrues . This limitation is strictly construed by the court.
The court has concurrent jurisdiction involving contracts with the Federal government, where a contractor has the option of choosing between filing suit with the court or with the agency Board of Contract Appeals. The general rule is that a contractor may either 1) file suit within 90 days with the agency Board of Contract Appeals or 2) file suit within one year with the court. A contractor, however, must choose which forum in which to file; a contractor cannot file suit with both the agency Board and with the court. (However, in a case where a contractor has filed with the Board, and the Government challenges the timeliness of the filing — the 90-day limit is statutory and cannot be extended — the contractor can file with the court within the one-year period to protect its claims.)
Unlike district courts, which generally only have jurisdiction over disputes in their geographic district, the COFC has jurisdiction over disputes wherever they occur in the country. To accommodate litigants, judges on the court may hold trials at local courthouses near where the disputes arise.
All trials at the court are bench trials, without juries. Because the court only hears cases against the Government, the United States is always the defendant in cases before the COFC.
The court receives a variety of claims against the Government, including breach of contract claims, illegal exaction claims, takings claims under the 5th Amendment, claims involving military pay, and protests regarding contract bidding procedures.
The court also may hear congressional reference cases, which are cases referred to the court by either house of Congress. The judge serving as hearing officer renders a report as to the case's merits, which is reviewed by a panel of judges formed for that purpose. The report is forwarded back to the chamber of Congress requesting it.