When Can I File A Case In North Carolina Business Court?

Business matters are often complex and highly technical. The litigation of these matters may be handled best in the North Carolina Business Court where judges often have specialized knowledge, experience, and a unique understanding of the complicated nature of business. However, not every case involving a business dispute is appropriate for Business Court. There are specific requirements set forth by state law that establish when a case can be filed in North Carolina Business Court.

Some cases are better suited for Business Court. However, at times, it is in the best interest of the parties to litigate the matter in Superior Court where all civil cases are originally filed even if the case qualifies for Business Court jurisdiction.

When can you file a case in North Carolina Business Court – and when should you? Here is a brief discussion of what the business court is, how a case gets there, and why the business court may be better suited to hear civil cases involving a business dispute. 

The North Carolina Business Court

The North Carolina Business Court is a venue for litigating highly complex civil business disputes. Specifically, to qualify for Business Court jurisdiction, a civil matter must be designated as a mandatory complex business case by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. State law mandates that some disputes be designated for Business Court jurisdiction but leaves the Chief Justice with discretion for deciding when other matters qualify.

North Carolina General Statute §7A-45.4 permits the following subjects to be designated as mandatory complex business cases qualifying for business court jurisdiction:

  • Antitrust law, trademark law, or disputes involving the laws of corporations, partnerships, and LLCs;
  • Securities disputes;
  • Trade secrets;
  • Intellectual property;
  • Business contracts valued at one million dollars or more; and
  • The Internet, electronic commerce, and biotechnology.

The law also states the following subjects shall be designated as mandatory complex business cases within the business court’s jurisdiction.

  • Tax disputes;
  • Disputes valued at five million dollars or more; and
  • Pole attachments.

Litigating in Business Court

All civil cases are first filed in Superior Court in the county of origin. However, when the nature of the dispute is best suited for litigation in the North Carolina Business Court, one or both parties may pursue jurisdiction by filing a Notice of Designation. There are specific requirements for moving a case into business court, beginning with the Notice of Designation. The Notice of Designation must be properly served on all appropriate parties and e-mailed to both the Chief Business Court Judge and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. Certification that applicable fees have been paid must also be filed with the Clerk of Superior Court within ten days of the case being designated for Business Court.

Generally, a case is not designated as a mandatory complex business case within the jurisdiction of the Business Court until the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina issues an order as such. While this typically happens in response to a party filing a Notice of Designation, any action filed within Superior Court that meets the requirements for designation as a mandatory complex business case, can be stayed by the Superior Court until the matter receives the necessary designation to be moved into Business Court. 

When parties disagree as to whether the matter should be litigated in Superior Court or Business Court, the opposing party can file a response so indicating within fifteen days of receiving service of the Notice of Designation. Further, if a case is designated and the parties desire to have the case removed back to Superior Court or if the parties fail to file a Notice of Designation timely for a matter that qualifies for Business Court jurisdiction, there are specific procedures for these circumstances as well.

Benefits of Business Court

Unlike in Superior Court, typically the same judge will handle a case in Business Court from start to finish. Business Court judges are often well-versed in handling complex business matters as most have experience working as complex civil litigators. Therefore, these judges often come to the bench with extensive knowledge and conceptual understanding which allows them to provide a different perspective than a Superior Court judge could offer. 

Also unlike Superior Courts found in each county through North Carolina, Business Courts are found in only four cities. However, the inconvenience of travel may be outweighed by the detailed consideration available from a judge in Business Court. With a team of clerks and assistants to help with research and other duties, a Business Court judge can devote the time and attention necessary to understand the complexities of your dispute, before making a ruling.

Further, the Business Court has its own procedural rules which may affect how evidence is presented and how discovery is shared between parties. Often, Business Court has more technology-friendly courtrooms that help communicate and illustrate the complex information often found in these cases. So, while the cost of litigating in Business Court may be higher, the experience and environment are catered to handle complex, high stakes matters in a way that the Superior Court may not be able to deliver.

Contact Our North Carolina Business Law Attorneys

The attorneys at Green Mistretta Law are dedicated to delivering positive results for our clients. We take pride in offering the very best legal counsel and working with clients to devise the best strategy for their cases, whether through litigation or alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation and arbitration. Call us today at 919-278-7453 to schedule a consultation for your case.

This article does not establish an attorney-client relationship and must not be construed as legal advice.