On October 16, 2012, Governor Snyder signed Public Act 333 into law. This new law establishes business courts as a specialized division within Michigan’s circuit court system.
Why the New Law?
The business courts were enacted, in part, as a response to the State Bar of Michigan’s Judicial Crossroads Task Force, which noted that Michigan needs to retain and attract business. The Task Force reviewed national evidence that shows that business disputes can be resolved more quickly when they are given a specialized case management. Such specialized management can also create a predictable body of business law, which makes it easier for parties to decide whether to litigate their disputes.
Who is Affected?
Under the new law, beginning January 1, 2013, each circuit court that has three or more judges will be required to have a specialized business docket in place for business cases. Business courts will have jurisdiction over business and commercial cases where the damages exceed $25,000.
Business disputes will include cases:
- in which all of the parties are businesses;
- involving the sale, merger or dissolution of a business;
- involving information technology, software, or website development and hosting;
- concerning trade secrets, non-competes, confidentiality agreements and intellectual property; and
- commercial transactions, such as commercial loans and real estate.
The business court will not handle employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, product liability which injured an individual, or matters involving residential property.
What Else Should I Know?
To reduce the time and expenses of business litigation, the business court will be required to use electronic communications and electronic filing whenever possible. Business cases will be given access to alternative dispute resolution earlier in the process than is now available. Most importantly, in order to build a body of consistent business case law, all written opinions in business court cases must be made available on an indexed website so that the public and attorneys can review the court’s precedents.