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Michigan Business Courts Have Arrived

By September 1, 2013, the Michigan Circuit Courts will implement Michigan Public Act 333 (2012), which requires business courts in every Michigan county with at least three circuit judges. Some Circuit Courts are already operating their Business Courts, including Oakland and Macomb County.

The act mandates that cases between business enterprises be assigned to the Business Courts. Under the statute, “ ’business enterprise’ means a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership, joint venture, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, for-profit or not-for-profit corporation or professional corporation, business trust, real estate investment trust, or any other entity in which a business may lawfully be conducted in the jurisdiction in which the business is being conducted. Business enterprise does not include an ecclesiastical or religious organization.” MCLA 600.8031(1)(b).

The statute requires that any business or commercial dispute that meets the following requirements must be assigned to the business court:

(i) An action in which all of the parties are business enterprises.

(ii) An action in which 1 or more of the parties is a business enterprise and the other parties are its or their present or former owners, managers, shareholders, members, directors, officers, agents, employees, suppliers, or competitors, and the claims arise out of those relationships.

(iii) An action in which 1 of the parties is a nonprofit organization, and the claims arise out of that party’s organizational structure, governance, or finances.

(iv) An action involving the sale, merger, purchase, combination, dissolution, liquidation, organizational structure, governance, or finances of a business enterprise. Business or commercial disputes include, but are not limited to, actions involving technology development, maintenance or hosting; shareholder, member disputes; contractual disputes, including trade secret, confidentiality, and noncompete litigation; commercial transactions; and commercial property. MCLA 600.8031(2)

The statute also provides examples of types of cases that are not business disputes, under MCLA 600.8031(3). Some of these include, personal injury actions, product liability matters involving individuals, and landlord-tenant matters involving residential property. However, as long as one of the claims, including a cross-claim or counterclaim, is a business dispute under MCLA 600.8031(2), the entire case will be assigned to the business courts.

The jurisdiction of the business courts will remain the same as circuit courts, in that the case and controversy must exceed $25,000 and fees will remain the same. The business courts are intended to provide greater efficiency to cases on the business docket. It will allow business or commercial disputes to be resolved with the expertise, technology, and efficiency. Electronic filing, telephone and video conferencing are all allowed by the act. In addition, the cases are expected to have an accelerated docket, therefore Judges will require attorneys to know the facts earlier than the traditional litigation matter, and require attorneys to do their fact finding prior to discovery. And finally, the intent of the act is to enhance the accuracy, consistency, and predictability of decisions in business and commercial cases. Moreover, all written opinions will be published on an indexed website.

If your company has a business dispute, call on the attorneys of Dalton & Tomich PLC who have the experience and expertise to litigate these matters in the Business Courts.

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