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[Note: This post was updated on March 2, 2015, to add the name of the Chair of the Business Court Advisory Committee, David Rosenbaum. I mean, I forgot the Chair! I’m sorry for the omission.]

A pilot program that creates a new superior court venue for commercial disputes was established by the Arizona Supreme Court this month. The three-year program will launch in July and function in Maricopa County.

The program’s details are set out in Administrative Order 2015-15, issued on February 18, and it followed on the work of a Business Court Advisory Committee, created by the Supreme Court in May 2014. This Administrative Order also adopts new Rule of Civil Procedure 8.1 and two new forms that practitioners and the court would use (included as an attachment to the order).

The three judges named to the new program for the pilot period are Judges Dawn Bergin, Roger Brodman and Christopher Whitten.

Rules 8.1(b), (c) and (d), included in the order (which you can read here), set out the case types that could be (and could not be) handled by the new venue.

Not to be lost amid the new development is the hard work and creativity of the original Court-created committee. You can read all their names and affiliations in Appendix A to A.O. 2014-48. But just to make it easier for you, congratulations and thanks to (alphabetically): Chair David Rosenbaum, Michael Arkfeld, Ray Billotte, Judge Kyle Bryson, Andrew Federhar, Glenn Hamer, Bill Klain, Mark Larson, Lisa Loo, Judge Scott Rash (appointed in A.O. 2014-58), Judge John Rea, Trish Refo, Marcus Reinkensmeyer, Mark Rogers, Nicole Stanton, Steve Tully, Steven Weinberger and Judge Christopher Whitten (appointed in A.O. 2014-58).

And here is a release from the Court:

“Civil commercial disputes may soon be handled in a new venue thanks to an Administrative Order by the Arizona Supreme Court that was signed this week. In May 2014, the Supreme Court established an 18-member advisory committee to study the feasibility of establishing a special venue within the Superior Courts to address the unique needs of businesses engaged in commercial civil litigation. The Superior Court in Maricopa County is in the process of launching a three-year pilot Commercial Court program.”

“‘This court recognizes that disputes between companies or involving the internal governance of businesses often raise issues that require specialized knowledge and that implicate potentially expensive discovery. By appointing experienced judges and establishing processes shaped for commercial civil litigation, we hope to show that these disputes can be resolved more efficiently and economically,’ Chief Justice Scott Bales explained.”

“The advisory committee cited several reasons that a Commercial Court would be beneficial to Arizona, including:

  • To make Arizona a more favorable forum for resolving business disputes;
  • To improve the business community’s access to justice;
  • To expeditiously resolve business cases and reduce litigation costs;
  • To improve the quality of justice; and
  • To gain the business community’s support for the State of Arizona’s dispute resolution system.”

“The pilot program is slated to begin July 1, 2015, giving the Superior Court in Maricopa County time to re-assign workload as necessary and implement other administrative steps in advance of taking on its first docket of cases.”

“The establishment of a Commercial Court is budget neutral and will be achieved through the use of existing judges and resources that are currently in place at the trial court level. Judges Dawn Bergin, Roger Brodman and Christopher Whitten are the three judges who will hear Commercial Court cases.”

“Once a case is assigned to Commercial Court, there will be a mandatory early scheduling conference to help address discovery issues and adopt an effective and efficient schedule for progress of the case.”

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