Georgia Bar Journal
GSB Vol. 14, NO. 6, Pg. 38.
Report on the Georgia Business Court Pilot Program
GSB JournalVol. 14, NO. 6April 2009Report on the Georgia Business Court Pilot Programby Mary C. Gill and Kerry K. VatzakasThree years ago, Georgia joined the ranks of numerous other states in establishing a dedicated business court.(fn1) The business court pilot program was authorized on June 3, 2005, through the adoption of Atlanta Judicial Rule 1004 (Rule 1004) by the Supreme Court of Georgia.(fn2) Rule 1004 authorized the judges of the Fulton County Superior Court to create a Business Case Division (Business Court), which began operations on Oct. 11, 2005.
The Business Court was established to provide an efficient and dedicated forum to resolve complex commercial and business cases, with heightened efficiency and judicial case management. The anticipated benefits of the Business Court included the development of a judicial bench with a particular focus and expertise in complex commercial and business law issues and customized case management. Rule 1004 provides that the Business Court is to be comprised of up to three senior judges. The current designated senior judges are Judge Alice D. Bonner and Judge Elizabeth E. Long.
During the past three years, over 83 cases have been transferred to the Business Court, with over 200 lawyers representing the litigants. Surveys conducted of the lawyers who have appeared before the Business Court reflect strong support for the Business Court and indicate satisfaction with the timeliness and quality of decisions from the Business Court. The docket of the Business Court became significantly more active in 2007 after the adoption of the Amended Rule 1004, which allowed for the assignment of cases to the Business Court by motion of one party or at the request of the superior court judge assigned to the case.(fn3) Prior to this amendment, assignment to the Business Court required the consent of all parties.(fn4)
When the Business Court was formed in 2005, it was contemplated that it would operate first as a test program for several years. After that time, there would be an evaluation of the Business Court, based upon the number and types of cases filed, the time to disposition, the perception among the bench and bar and with consideration given to the continuation of, possible...