An Introduction to Georgia’s Business Court and the GA Court System

In August 2020, Georgia launched its new Statewide Business Court (SBC), a specialized forum designed to efficiently handle complex commercial litigation cases. The court shares some similarities with Delaware’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division (CCLD) but has its own unique features for Georgia’s business community within the Georgia Court System.

The SBC Opens Its Doors

The SBC officially started accepting cases on August 1, 2020 and held its first in-person hearing on May 11, 2021. The Business Court Rules (BCR) governing practice in the SBC took effect on August 1, 2021, and can be found on the court’s website. (add link)

Statewide Presence and Venue

Although the SBC is physically housed in Atlanta’s new Nathan Deal Judicial Center alongside the Georgia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, it is intended to serve the entire state. The court’s first presiding judge was Hon. Walter W. Davis.

The venue for the SBC pretrial proceedings remains where the case was originally filed, removed from, or could have been filed based on Georgia’s standard venue rules. If a case is initiated directly in the SBC and multiple venues are proper, the filing party designates their preferred venue. It’s important to note that the SBC’s statewide role is not confined to metro Atlanta.

The SBC’s Jurisdiction

The SBC has broad subject matter jurisdiction over 17 categories of high-stakes commercial disputes, such as those arising under the UCC, Georgia Business Corporation Code, and Uniform Partnership and LLC Acts. These are subject to amount-in-controversy requirements of $1 million for real property disputes and $500,000 for all others.

However, the SBC shares equity jurisdiction with Georgia’s Superior Courts for all matters within its subject matter scope, with no amount-in-controversy minimum. It also has supplemental jurisdiction over related claims outside its express subject matter boundaries.

Appeals from the SBC go to the Court of Appeals unless taken up by the Supreme Court.

Routes to the SBC

  1. Direct filing
  2. Transfer from state or superior court
  3. Agreement (e.g. contractual forum selection clauses designating SBC)

A $3,000 filing fee, paid by the filing party/parties or split evenly if transferred by joint agreement, applies in all SBC cases. Along with the subject matter categories, this reserves the court for truly complex commercial matters. E-filing is available via PeachCourt. (add link?)

Key Differences in SBC Practice

The SBC prioritizes efficiency, technology, and accessibility to swiftly resolve complex business disputes with:

  • 90-day policy for issuing orders after briefing closes
  • Regular status conferences to address potential roadblocks
  • Presumption of bench trials, but jury rights preserved
  • Opinions/decisions reported to Westlaw/LexisNexis to develop body of citable authority

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