The Business Court, Georgia’s first statewide in the past 114 years, opened on August 30, 2020. The Business Court is a specialized commercial court created to promote the efficient and predictable resolution of complex litigation. Although lauded as a way to provide expertise for the adjudication of complex matters, the ability of the Business Court to achieve that goal hangs dangerously in the balance.
Unlike other courts in Georgia, and indeed nationwide, the Business Court cannot hear a case until both parties agree to have the case heard there. In a recent opinion, Overlook Gardens Properties LLC v. Orix USA, the Business Court interpreted the governing legislation and determined that one party’s objection to transferring a case to the Business Court is fatal to the transfer. The order was issued by the Georgia Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Sara Doyle, who sat by designation after Business Court Judge Walt Davis had recused himself due to a conflict of interest with one of the litigants.
As a practical matter, the court’s interpretation of its own jurisdiction severely limits the ability of the court to hear contested matters. The future of the Business Court likely rests with the legislature, who has the ability to amend the governing legislation and expand the court’s jurisdiction. For now, the Business Court’s docket remains small. Only 15 cases are currently pending in the court, but in 12 of those cases, one of the parties has objected to having the case resolved by the Business Court. The docket is expected to drop to 3 cases and the court will be refunding parties’ filing fees.
The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman handle business litigation on a variety of issues in courts throughout Georgia. Please contact us today regarding your litigation needs.