North Carolina Business Court Annual Report for 2023

On February 1, 2024, the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts issued its 2023 Report on North Carolina Business Court. Below, we excerpt key portions of the Report — the full Report can be found here.

Background Information on the North Carolina 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.”

“G.S. 7A-45.4 governs the designation of Business Court cases . . . . Most cases referred to the Business Court in calendar year 2023 involved the law governing corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies. Table 1 below identifies the statutory basis appearing in the parties’ Notices of Designation for cases newly designated to the Business Court in 2023 and the frequency of each type of designated dispute.”

“As of December 31, 2023, 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 includes various helpful statistics for the N.C. Business Court (e.g., number of new, pending, and closed cases; age of pending cases; number of motions pending more than six months, etc.); it also summarizes Business Court expenditures, which were $3,290,091 in fiscal year 2022-2023 (they were $2,635,002 in fiscal year 2021-2022).

Statistical Information and Case Types

“There were 189 cases pending in the Business Court as of December 31, 2023 (176 when counting a consolidated group of cases as one case). Of those 189 cases, 166 were assigned to the Business Court as mandatory complex business cases designated pursuant to G.S. 7A-45.4. The Chief Justice designated 12 cases as complex business cases and 11 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 includes a table of pending, new, and closed Business Court cases, by county, for the years 2021, 2022, and 2023. “As of December 31, 2023, 41 of the Business Court’s 189 pending cases were subject to stay, appeal, alternative dispute resolution, or in inactive status. The average age of pending cases not subject to stay, appeal, alternative dispute resolution, or in inactive status (“active cases”) was 607 days, with a median age of 342 days. The average age of all pending cases was 849 days, with a median age of 472 days.”

In 2023, North Carolina’s Business Court issued “92 written opinions on motions and other matters, many involving issues of first impression,” as well as 69 “Orders of Significance.” The Court’s opinions can be found here, and the Court’s significant orders can be found here.

“During calendar year 2023, the Business Court judges in Business Court cases conducted one jury trial, two bench trials, and presided over 257 motions and 218 conferences. In general Superior, the Business Court judges held four sessions and conducted one jury trial. As of December 31, 2023, 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 full copy of the 2023 Report can be found here. Our predecessor, Lee Applebaum, previously posted on earlier North Carolina annual reports on this blog. See 2022, 202120202018a semiannual report for the first half of 2019,  semiannual reports 2015-2018, and reports for 2004 and 2006-2008.

Posted by Doug Toering and Matt Rose