North Carolina Business Court Annual Report for 2022

On February 1, 2023, the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts issued its mandatory 2022 Report on the North Carolina Business Court.  A copy of the Report can be found here.

Background Information about the N.C. Business Court

“The North Carolina Business Court is an administrative division of the North Carolina General Court of Justice designed to provide a specialized forum for cases involving complex business issues.”

“As of December 31, 2022, there were five active Business Court judges maintaining chambers in Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Winston-Salem: Louis A. Bledsoe, III, Chief Business Court Judge (Mecklenburg County Courthouse), Michael L. Robinson (Wake Forest University School of Law), Adam M. Conrad (Mecklenburg County Courthouse), Julianna Theall Earp (Elon University School of Law), and Mark A. Davis (Wake County Courthouse).”

“An early leader in electronic filing since 1996, the North Carolina Business Court launched a web-based filing system in June 2017 that provides improved functionality and features for attorneys, filers, and judicial staff. The interface delivers a modern and user-friendly experience, features new search capabilities, and provides public access to case information online. The new system also provides a browser-based case management system with workflow queues and judicial tools to aid the Business Court judges, their judicial staffs, and the parties in managing cases from filing through resolution. The system streamlines judicial processes and the dissemination of filings, orders, and opinions.”

The Report summarizes Business Court expenditures, which were $2,635,002 in fiscal year 2021-2022.

Statistical Information and Case Types

The Report begins with an overview of the Court’s jurisdiction, and the categories of cases the Business Court hears, and whether they are within discretionary or mandatory jurisdiction. It then reports on parties case type designations.  “Most cases referred to the Business Court in calendar year 2022 involved the law governing corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies.”  The next most common case type designations were trade secrets, intellectual property, contract disputes in excess of $1,000,000, securities disputes, and controversies over $5,000,000.  (As you can see, there are sizable minimum amount-in-controversy requirements for certain case types.)

“There were 192 cases pending in the Business Court as of December 31, 2022 (179 when counting a consolidated group of cases as one case). Of those 192 cases, 171 were assigned to the Business Court as mandatory complex business cases designated pursuant to G.S. 7A-45.4. The Chief Justice designated 9 cases as complex business cases and 12 cases as exceptional cases in the Chief Justice’s discretion under Rule 2.1 of the General Rules of Practice for the Superior and District Courts.”

The Report provides a table of pending, new and closed cases by county in which the Business Court maintains chambers, for the years 2020, 2021, and 2022. At the end of 2022, 39 cases were subject to stays, appeals, ADR and/or were otherwise marked inactive. “The average age of pending cases not subject to stay, appeal, alternative dispute resolution, or in inactive status (‘active cases’) was 592 days, with a median age of 334 days.”  There are appendices identifying each individual North Carolina county with which the cases were associated.

The Business Court “issued 84 written opinions on motions and other matters, many
involving issues of first impression.” It also issued 70 “Orders of Significance”. A link to the Court’s opinions can be found here, and the significant Orders, here.  The level of detailed explanation in these orders would meet the general notion of an opinion, though often a shorter type of opinion. As described in the Report, “Business Court judges also regularly prepare written, substantive orders that are not issued as written opinions for publication, some of which appear on the Court’s website as Orders of Significance.”

Business Court opinions “regularly represent a significant percentage of the opinions reported in North Carolina Lawyers’ Weekly’s semiannual summary of most significant cases, and several widely read legal blogs often focus on the Business Court’s decisions.”

“In late December 2021, the Court initiated a free, bimonthly email bulletin containing links to
the opinions and Orders of Significance issued in the preceding two weeks. The bulletin currently has nearly 800 subscribers.

Under the heading, Bench Trials with No Entry of Judgment after Six Months, the Report states, “During calendar year 2022, the Business Court judges conducted 5 jury trials and presided over 284 motions and 200 conferences. … As of December 31, 2022, there were no Business Court cases in which entry of judgment in a bench trial had been pending for more than six months.”

Again, a copy of the 2022 Report can be found here.

We have previously posted on earlier North Carolina annual reports, 2021, 2020, 2018, a semiannual report for the first half of 2019semiannual reports 2015-2018, and reports for 2004 and 2006-2008.


Posted by Lee Applebaum