Georgia is One Step Closer to a Statewide Business Court
On March 29, 2018, the Georgia Senate passed HR 993, as amended, and the Georgia House of Representatives agreed to the Senate substitute bill. As we have commented on here, here, here, and here, HR 993 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a Business Court with statewide jurisdiction. As Georgia voters must approve any constitutional amendment, the November 2018 ballot will feature the following language:
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to create a state-wide business court, authorize superior court business court divisions, and allow for the appointment process for state-wide business court judges in order to lower costs, improve the efficiency of all courts, and promote predictability of judicial outcomes in certain complex business disputes for the benefit of all citizens of this state?
Whether the Business Court will achieve these results will remain to be seen if the Constitution is, in fact, amended. It appears, for example, additional opportunities for forum shopping have been created. HR 993 provides that a Superior and the Business Court would have concurrent jurisdiction in equity cases, and a Superior Court could only transfer a case to the Business Court “by agreement of the parties.” As a result, requests for injunctive relief, and Superior Court workloads, might increase. In addition, the Court Reform Council recommended an indeterminate amount in controversy requirement as a jurisdictional hurdle, which litigants could exploit depending on how high or low the General Assembly sets the threshold.
We will continue to monitor developments on this issue closely. Stay tuned.
William Daniel Davis