Commercial courts: a twenty first century necessity?

AuthorAlvin Stauber
PositionProfessor of Business Law, College of Business, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, United States of America
Judicial Studies Institute Journal [2007:1
In the last several years, the number of specialised courts in
the United States that handle cases involving commercial matters
has increased substantially. At present, twelve states—Florida,
Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey,
New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Rhode
Island—are operating commercial courts in either selected cities
or on a statewide basis.1 One of the most recent additions to the
commercial court line-up is the Orlando, Florida Business Court
(known officially as the Orange County Complex Commercial
Litigation Division), which commenced operations in January
2004.2 At the very same time that the Orlando Business Court
was established, Ireland’s Commercial Court likewise came into
being. Aside from their identical start date, these two courts have
a shared philosophy that a separate commercial court can achieve
worthy objectives such as creating judicial expertise in complex
commercial matters, fostering consistency in case management,
and expediting cases.3
The purpose of this article is to: (1) briefly describe the
history of commercial courts in the United States; and (2) review
and analyze the operation of the Business Court in Orlando,
Florida and the Commercial Court in Ireland.
Professor of Business Law, College of Business, Florida State University,
Tallahassee, Florida, United States of America.
1 Bach and Applebaum, “A History of the Creation and Jurisdiction of
Business Courts in the Last Decade,” 60 Business Lawyer 147 at 151 (2004).
2 Krueger, “Roche Takes Reins of First Business Court,” Orlando Business
Journal, 31 October 2003. The Fulton County [Atlanta] Business Court began
operations in December 2005 and appears to be the most recently established
Business Court. See also Land, “Georgia Justices Clear Way for Business
Court,” New Jersey Law Journal, 13 June 2005.
3 See “Address by Michael McDowell T.D., Minister for Justice, Equality &
Law Reform at the Commercial Court and Mediation Conference on 24 March
2004,” available at
2007] Commercial Courts 155
A. Benefits
The impetus for creating commercial courts in the United
States was a growing recognition that courts specializing in
business matters offered numerous benefits to both the legal and
business community. These benefits included the following:
1. Expertise. Courts that consistently deal with business,
corporate, and other commercial disputes develop expertise,
experience, and knowledge.
2. Efficiency. As Business Courts become more experienced
in handling commercial disputes, they will be able to perform
their judicial functions more rapidly and efficiently.
3. Resource Availability. The more efficient handling of
business cases frees judicial resources to handle other
pressing matters.
4. Stability. Business Courts provide consistency and
predictability to litigants and lawyers. Instead of having
numerous judges making unpredictable and inconsistent
rulings, one or two judges specializing in commercial cases
can bring stability to an otherwise uncertain environment.
5. Economic Development. New businesses can be recruited
to an area more easily if they know that a specialized Business
Court is in place to resolve disputes.4
B. Business Court Pioneers
Although not designated as a “business court,” the
Delaware Court of Chancery has, for decades, been, in essence, a
business court of the first order, currently handling approximately
500 business cases a year.5 As the late Chief Justice Rehnquist
4 See generally Bach and Applebaum, “A History of The Creation and
Jurisdiction of Business Courts in the Last Decade”, supra note 1.
5 Veasey, “The Drama of Judicial Branch Change in this Century,” 17
Delaware Lawyer 4 at 5 (1999-2000).

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