Delaware requires foreign corporations doing business in Delaware to register with the Secretary of State and to agree that "[a]ll process issued out of any court of this State . . . may be served on the registered agent of the corporation . . . ." Since the 1980s, federal and state courts had held that a foreign corporation's appointment of a registered agent to accept service of process, as required by Delaware's registration statute, constitutes an implicit consent to general jurisdiction in Delaware.
Last month, Delaware's Supreme Court departed from these decisions. It reasoned that the canon of constitutional avoidance required it to interpret the registration statute more narrowly in light of the United States Supreme Court's recent decisions in Goodyear and Daimler, which held that corporations are usually only subject to general jurisdiction in places where they are "essentially at home." Instead, the court ruled the registration statute "can be given a sensible reading by construing it as requiring a foreign corporation to allow service of process to be made upon it in a convenient way in proper cases, but not as a consent to general jurisdiction."
In so doing, the court joined courts in Indiana, New Jersey, New York, and other states that have similarly declined to interpret state registration statutes as evidencing consent to general jurisdiction.