Full Party Consent Jurisdiction Business Courts

The “full consent jurisdiction” issue is becoming of some interest recently.

There are a few business court dockets where all parties must consent to the business court’s jurisdiction.  These include the Georgia Statewide Business Court, the Indiana Commercial Courts, the New Hampshire Business and Commercial Dispute Docket, and Wyoming’s Chancery Court (which has not yet become operational).

A few other states have business courts that are physically located in only a limited number of specific county, district or circuit courts, but whose doors are open to litigants across the rest of the state.  These business courts do not require full party consent to litigants within their natural venue, but out-of-county cases require full party consent to gain access to these business courts.

Massachusetts’ Business Litigation Session (BLS) is within the Suffolk Superior Court, located in Boston. Suffolk County cases do not require full party consent to gain BLS jurisdiction.  The BLS has jurisdiction over litigation in other counties if those cases fall within the BLS’ case type jurisdiction, but only if all parties in those cases outside Suffolk County agree to BLS jurisdiction.

The Davidson County [Tennessee] Business Court Docket is located in Nashville, as part of the Chancery Court.  For Davidson County cases, one party can request inclusion in the Business Court, subject to the Chief Justice’s discretion in accepting the case into the Business Court.  The Davidson County Business Court Docket can include cases originating outside Davidson County; however, all parties in those cases must agree and jointly request inclusion in the Nashville business court.  “Alternatively, at the request of the trial court judge, the Chief Justice may appoint a Senior Judge to hear an eligible Business Docket case in the venue in which it was filed.”

Wisconsin’s Commercial Docket is located in four judicial districts. If parties outside those four districts want to have their case included in one of those Commercial Dockets, all parties must consent and jointly make the request.  By contrast, joint consent is not required for cases already within the judicial districts having Commercial Dockets.