Today at lunch, between watching the 1st round NCAA games (Geaux Tigers), we were talking about specialized courts in various fields. For example, there is currently legislation, called the Patent Pilot Program (Senate Bill 299 and House Bill 628) to designate special district court judges as "patent judges." Under the bill, not less than $5,000,000 would be set aside to provide training to judges and staff, and for the hire of specialized law clerks to assist the new "patent judge." This discussion started me thinking about State Commercial Courts. I am wondering what the impact of State Commercial Courts are on decisions to arbitrate by clients. These business courts have been established to create a forum for specialized decision making by tribunals. For example, Maryland's Business and Technology Court Case Management Implementation committee provided for specialized training for judges in handling technology for easing the case burden on certain cases. New York's Commercial Division was created to "improve the efficiency with which such matters were addressed by the court and, at the same time, to enhance the quality of judicial treatment of those cases." Likewise, the North Carolina Business court was specifically created to oversee specialized complex commercial litigation matters.
There are currently sixteen states that have either ventured to create specialized forums for commercial litigation or have entertained the idea in some form. It seems that most of these courts are designed around the complex nature of the litigation, rather than the subject matter; specifically the expertise seems to be handling document intensive litigation. So is business court or commercial court division a misnomer? Do litigants expect that Judges hearing these matters have a greater expertise than an ordinary judge in accounting principles or transactional work. If there is a higher level of expertise in transactional matters, does that have a trickle down impact on negotiating to arbitrate disputes by the parties -- (there may be other reasons for preferring arbitration, like not wanting to risk the resolution of disputes on a jury trial, but putting that aside, does the creation of a specialized forum for business problems alter parties dispute resolution choices?). Do these courts have actual technical commercial expertise, or are they just better at handling document intensive litigations than their district court counterparts. I am curious to hear from anyone that has experience with these courts.