During most of the 20th Century American courts were structured to handle all kinds of cases channeled through a group of judges applying a standard set of procedures to each case. Since the beginning of the 1990s, a trend has emerged to establish special state courts designed to handle certain categories of recurring business-related cases.
The success of specialized business courts is evident in their rapid growth, particularly in states along the East Coast of the United States.
Business courts originally came about because business litigants and their Washington DC business attorneys wanted to avoid the quagmire of state trial courts in settling their business disputes. Unlike federal courts, cases in state trial courts were often placed on a master calendar to be handled by any number of judgesâsometimes multiple judges on one case. Many believed that this was an unreliable process and sought an efficient solution. In 1993, the earliest forms of courts specializing in business cases were born simultaneously in New York City and Chicago.
These programs have garnered respect locally, and sometimes regionally or nationally, for their expertise, efficacy, and internal efficiencies, as well as through the belief that taking business and commercial cases off of the general docket allows other kinds of cases to be handled more efficiently as well.
Business courts provide several advantages for Washington DC businesses involved in litigation including assignment of judges with particular experience in business litigation, publication of some business court opinions to assist parties in determining how business law principles may apply to their case, early and proactive case management, early consideration of automated document review, and access to technology designed to enhance lawsuit efficiency. States that have formed business courts report that by assigning cases to these courts, caseload burdens are reduced throughout the court system.
The existence of business courts can be a positive selling point for states that have formed them. Businesses seeking to relocate or set up headquarters, may steer toward a state with a fine-tuned business court system in place.
In many states, like Maryland, business courts also have become forums for adjudicating complex or novel business and technology issuesâcases are assigned to these business courts to receive extra attention that is likely to improve the administration of justice.
In sum, the growth of business courts has been and continues to be a dynamic process, both within the existing business courts themselves and in relation to other courts and communities.
Michael Trevelline – Washington DC Law Firm
1823 Jefferson Place, NW, Washington DC