James Fausone, Esq.
As many business owners know, the slow crawl of business litigation can be a drain on time and resources. However, starting September 1st, every Michigan Circuit Court with 3 or more judges is required to have a dedicated business court in place. These new business courts are aimed at resolving business disputes efficiently and expediently.
The business court statute, MCL 600.8031, et seq, requires these circuit courts to create a docket specifically for business or commercial disputes. Judges with expertise, background, or specialized training in business law will preside over these cases. Any case containing a business or commercial dispute must be funneled into the dedicated business docket. It is also anticipated that these specially-trained business law judges will have greater involvement in the cases early on in order to expedite the settlement of these cases.
The law is drafted broadly – all cases involving a business dispute, even if there are additional non-business claims, must be heard by the business court. This rule is mandatory – parties cannot stipulate to have their case heard out of the business court.
Additionally, written opinions of these business law judges will be indexed online and available for viewing. This is helpful for practitioners looking for insight into how a particular judge may rule on an issue, as well as for other business court judges seeking guidance. These opinions will not be binding precedent, but are expected to provide a measure of clarity and predictability to the business court.
Litigators won’t be the only attorneys affected by the new business courts – it may change the way transactional attorneys practice as well. For instance, many attorneys automatically include mandatory arbitration clauses in their contracts in the event that a dispute arises. However, these practitioners may now want to consider allowing these disputes to be heard in the business court rather than through binding arbitration. The business court preserves the parties’ right to appeal, will have trained business law judges, faster processing times, and the availability of jury trials – all of which may be appealing to business owners.
If you have questions about Michigan’s new business courts, or if you are currently involved in a business dispute, contact the litigation department at Fausone Bohn, LLP, by calling (248) 380-0000 or online at www.fb-firm.com. Our experienced legal professionals are available to give you the guidance your company needs.