Business clients in North Carolina are fortunate to be able to litigate certain claims in a court specifically geared for commercial and business matters.
The N.C. Business Court was formed in 1995 to provide high-level judicial expertise in specialized corporate law and commercial matters. At the time of formation - and inspired by Delaware’s Chancery Court - no other state had created a court system specifically to deal with complex corporate issues. The N.C. Business Court has been hailed as a model for other states to follow.
A case is not filed directly in business court. Instead, a plaintiff or defendant can file a notice of designation to that court. There is no minimum amount of controversy for designation to business court.
The court hears “mandatory complex business cases,” which include:
- Securities law
- State trademark or unfair competition law
- Antitrust law
- Intellectual property law
- Certain tax cases
- Law governing business organizations, internet, e-commerce and biotechnology.
The N.C. Business Court also hears cases deemed by a superior court judge to be exceptional or discretionary complex business cases.
The opposing party may challenge the designation within 30 days of being served with the notice. Once the business court has jurisdiction over a case, that jurisdiction remains in place for the pendency of the case, even if claims are dismissed
Once a case arrives in N.C. Business Court, a single judge is assigned to the case for more uniform, intense and proactive case management. Business court judges hold hearings in Charlotte, Raleigh or Greensboro. Jury trials are heard in the county where the suit originated.
The judge will issue a written opinion granting or denying a motion under certain procedural rules and final orders of disposition. The body of case law serves as guidance for N.C.’s business community.
A party can appeal a final judgment or, under certain circumstances, an interlocutory ruling by the N.C. Business Court directly to the N.C. Supreme Court.
At the end of 2015, the N.C. Business Court had 231 pending cases, including 184 active cases, 25 cases on appeal and 22 inactive or stayed matters. Ninety-five percent of those matters were mandatory complex business cases, as defined by statute. According to semi-annual report from this year, the average age of these active cases is 552 days.
The N.C. Business Court provides a specialized forum for complex business and commercial matters. It streamlines judicial efficiency for business litigants, who benefit the most from the heightened level of business-minded judicial oversight.
John D. Martin is a trial lawyer and the managing partner of the Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP’s Wilmington, North Carolina office. Martin concentrates his practice in the medical malpractice and professional liability defense practice groups. He has tried numerous medical malpractice and personal injury cases throughout eastern North Carolina. Many of his cases involve brain injury, birth trauma, paraplegia and wrongful death. Additionally, Martin has experience with large construction litigation, premises liability and hospital/workplace security. To contact Martin, call (910) 777-6018 or email him at [email protected].