A bill was introduced this week in the NC General Assembly that would be entitled "An Act to Modernize the Business Court By Making Technical, Clarifying, And Administrative Changes To The Procedures For Complex Business Cases." Here's the text of the bill.
This is a summary of the proposed changes:
Appeals From Business Court
There would be a direct appeal to the NC Supreme Court from any final judgment in a case designated as a mandatory complex business case per G.S. §7A-45.4. Since the NC Supreme Court has yet to rule in a case that originated in the Business Court (as far as I know) even though the NC Court of Appeals has ruled in many such cases, this will result in more Supreme Court decisions in business cases.
Changes to Cases That May Be Designated As Mandatory Complex Business Cases
One of the first posts that I wrote on this blog (way back in 2008!) was about the jurisdiction of the Business Court. You can find it here, but this proposed bill would change things.
The proposed bill does away completely with jurisdiction over cases involving intellectual property law (currently in G.S. §7A-45.4(5)) and cases involving "the Internet, electronic commerce, and biotechnology" (currently in G.S. §7A-45.4(6))
The bill adds two new explicit categories of cases that would qualify to be designated as complex business cases:
There Would Be Cases That Must Be Designated As Mandatory Complex Business Cases
In a new twist, the proposed bill specifies certain types of cases which must be designated as mandatory complex business cases. Call these "mandatory mandatory" complex business cases. Those are:
If a party fails to designate a "mandatory mandatory" case, the Superior Court in which it was filed can either dismiss it without prejudice or stay it until it is properly designated per proposed new Section 7A-45.4(g).
Increase In Designation Fee
The proposed bill would increase the fee for designating a case to the Business Court by one hundred dollars, from one thousand dollars to eleven hundred dollars.
But the bill doesn't fix the problem that the designation fee is not recoverable as an element of costs. I wrote about that issue last year.
Additional Reporting On The Activity In The Business Court
The proposed bill would require the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts to report semiannually to the Chief Justice and each member of the General Assembly on the number of cases that have been pending at each location of the Business Court for more than three years, motions pending without a ruling for more than six months after being "fully ripe for decision" and the number of cases in which bench trials were held and completed for more than six months in which no judgment had been rendered. The report is to include an explanation from the Business Court.
Thanks to my partner, Charles Marshall, who sent me a copy of this proposed legislation.
Read the rest of the article at the North Carolina Business Litigation Report, a blog for lawyers focusing on issues of North Carolina business law and the day-to-day practice of business litigation in North Carolina courts.
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