Code of Civil Procedure section 394

Compiled January, 2015

Our review of the annotated history reveals the following legislative history (every “c.” below represents a separate legislative bill):

Prior History: Former uncodified § 1, added 1854, c. 41, to read as follows:

   Section 1. Suits against a county may be commenced in any court of that county, or in a District Court of the Judicial District in which such county is situated in the same manner as suits against private persons; Provided, That suits between counties shall be commenced in a court of competent jurisdiction in any county not a party to such action.

Added: 1872 Code of Civil Procedure codification, reading as follows:

   394. Actions against counties may be commenced and tried in any county in the Judicial District in which such county is situated, unless such actions are between counties, in which case they may be commenced and tried in any county not a party thereto.


  • 1881, c. 30: the changes indicated by quotation marks were made in providing that “An action against a county, or city and county,” may be commenced and tried in “such” county, “or city and county,” unless such action “is brought by a county, or city and county,” in which case “it” may be commenced and tried in any county, “or city and county,” not a party thereto.
  • 1891, c. 61: a provision was added providing for a transfer in the case of an action by a county or city against the citizens of another county or a corporation doing business in another county.
  • 1907, c. 369: reference to cities and counties was deleted and provision was made for a transfer in the case of an action by a county or city against “residents”, instead of “citizens”, of another county “or city”. Note: § 394 was amended by the 1901 revision act, Stats.1901, c. 102, p. 128, § 55. However, on the authority of Lewis v. Dunne (1901) 66 P. 478, 134 Cal. 291, 55 L.R.A. 833, 86 Am.St.Rep. 257, the 1901 revision act was unconstitutional and void.
  • 1915, c. 434: made the section apply to an action “or proceeding”; it made the section apply to cities and counties; it provided that an action between counties or between a county and a city and county may be “tried,” instead of “commenced and tried” in any county or city and county not a party; it added to the provision for a transfer in the case of an action by a county, city and county, or city against a resident of another county, etc., or corporation doing business in the latter, the words “and other than that in which the defendant resides or is doing business or is situated”; and it added provisions for the transfer to a neutral county whenever an action is brought against a county, city and county, or city in a different county or city and county.
  • 1921, c. 382: provided for a transfer on the motion of “either party”, instead of on the motion of “said defendant”.
  • 1929, c. 112: a provision was added that any action or proceeding against a city, county, or city and county for personal injury or property damage caused by negligence shall be commenced and tried in such county, or city and county, or if a city is a defendant, in such city or in the county in which such city is situated.
  • 1931, c. 942: added a provision applicable to nonjury cases permitting the assignment of a judge from a neutral county to hear the cause instead of transferring it; added a sentence relating to the duty of witnesses to attend hearings in the county to which the cause is transferred; and added provisions relating to additional costs occasioned by the transfer of a cause.
  • 1933, c. 744: corrected some typographical errors, divided the section into subdivisions, and added subdivision 2.
  • 1970, 604: authorized actions by or against “local agency” and added subdivision (3) defining local agency.
  • 1971, c. 957: authorized actions by or against “city”.
  • 1994, c. 1269: at the beginning of the second sentence, substituted “Except for actions initiated by the district attorney pursuant to Section 11350, 1, 11475.1, or 11476.1 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, any action or proceeding brought by a county” for “Whenever an action or proceeding is brought by a county”; and made other, non-substantive changes.
  • 2002, 784: made changes to conform various statutory provisions of law to the abolition of municipal courts and their unification within the superior courts. See Legislative Counsel’s Digest under the Historical and Statutory Notes under Business and Professions Code § 6079.1 for related statutory changes made by this chapter.
  • 2002, c. 927: in subdivision (a), substituted “local child support agency pursuant to Section 17400, 17402, 17404, or 17416 of the Family Code” for “district attorney pursuant to Section 11350, 1, 11475.1, or 11476.1 of the Welfare and Institutions Code”, and made non-substantive changes; deleted subdivision (b); and re-designated former subdivision (c) as subdivision (b). Prior to amendment, subdivision (b) read: “(b) Any court in a county hereinabove designated as a proper county, which has jurisdiction of the subject matter of the action or proceeding, is a proper court for the trial thereof.”

15 unique bills affected this section.                          

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