What is the underlying authority to establish and implement the Saginaw County Business Court?
MCL 600.8031 et seq. enables the creation, defines cases eligible for, and provides much of the procedure for administration of business courts; while MCR 2.112(O) and, locally, LAO 2013-06, supplement procedure for determining and administering eligible cases.
What is the purpose of business court?
The statute states the purpose of business court is to do all of the following: (a) establish judicial structure that will help all court users by improving the efficiency of the courts, (b) allow business or commercial disputes to be resolved with the expertise, technology, and efficiency required by the information age economy, and (c) enhance the accuracy, consistency, and predictability of decisions in business and commercial cases. [ MCL 600.8033(3) ]
What is a business court?
Business Court is a special docket comprised of Circuit Court civil cases in which “all or part of the action includes a business or commercial dispute”. [ MCL 600.8031, 600.8035(1) and (3) ]
What is a "business or commercial dispute"?
“Business or commercial dispute” is statutorily defined by two characteristics: (1) type of parties, and (2) type of action. Under the statute, the “parties” element means any of the following [MCL 600.8031(1)(c)]:
(a) an action in which each party is a “business enterprise” (a defined term to mean sole proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership, joint venture, LLC, LLP, corporations, business trust, REIT, etc.);
(b) one or more of the parties is a business enterprise and the other parties are its present or former owners, managers, shareholders, members, directors, officers, agents, employees, suppliers, or competitors;
(c) an action in which 1 of the parties is a nonprofit organization, and the claims arise out of that part’s organizational structure, governance, or finances; or
(d) an action involving the sale, merge, purchase, combination, dissolution, liquidation, organizational structure, governance, or finances of a business enterprise.
The type of “claims” eligible for business court “include” [MCL 600.8031(2)]:
(a) those involving information, technology, software, or website development, maintenance, or hosting;
(b) those involving the internal organization of business entities and the rights or obligations of shareholders, partners, members, owners, officers, directors, or mangers;
(c) those arising out of contractual agreements or other business dealings, including licensing, trade secret, intellectual property, antitrust, securities, noncompete, non-solicitation, and confidentiality agreements if all available administrative remedies are completely exhausted;
(d) those arising out of commercial transactions, including commercial bank transactions;
(e) those arising out of business or commercial insurance policies; and
(f) those involving commercial real property.
How does a case get assigned to business court?
When a case involves a business or commercial dispute, parties are required to (“shall”) verify on the face of their initial pleading that the case meets the statutory requirements for business court (and this may be accomplished by checking the appropriate box on SCAO form of Summons, MC 01.rev 5/15). [ MCR 2.112(O)(1); LAO 2013-06, ¶ 3(A) ]
If no party makes the necessary verification on their initial pleading, any party may thereafter file a motion with the business court judge for determination of eligibility. [ MCR 2.112(O)(2) ]
In any event, the business court judge is prompted to review the pleadings and make a determination whether the case is eligible for business court. If it is, the case “shall” be assigned to the business court If the business court judge determines the case does not include a business/commercial dispute, it remains with the originally assigned circuit judge. [ MCR 2.112(O)(3); LAO 2013-06, ¶ (3)(A) and (B) ]
The decision of the business court judge regarding eligibility may be appealed to the chief circuit judge, but not beyond. [ MCL 600.8035(7); MCR 2.112(O)(4); MCR 7.203(D) ]
What if a business/commercial dispute is only a portion of a case?
“An action shall be [(i.e. mandatory)] assigned to [ ] business court if all or part of the action includes a business or commercial dispute”. [ MCL 600.8035(3) ]
What happens if a cases does not initially include a business/commercial dispute, but subsequently does (e.g. by amendment, third-party claim, etc.)?
If a case “subsequently includes a business or commercial dispute as a result of a cross-claim, counterclaim, third-party complaint, amendment, or other modification of the action [, it] shall be reassigned . . . to [the] business court . . .” [ MCL 600.8035(6) ]
However, the statute [ MCL 600.8039(4) ] also provides that the general practice and procedure of circuit court applies in business court. Therefore, court rules such as joinder of claims and amendment of pleadings, for example, may deprive untimely litigants access to business court.
What happens if a case no longer includes a business or commercial dispute?
If the action ceases to include a business or commercial dispute, it may be reassigned to the circuit court judge originally assigned the case by blind draw. [ MCL 600.8035(5) ]
Does every county in Michigan have a business court?
No. Only counties with 3 or more circuit judges are required to have a business court. [ MCL 600.8033(1) ]
How are business court judges determined?
Business court judges are assigned by the supreme court for a term of 6 years. [ MCL 600.8037(1) and (2) ]