North Carolina Business Court’s 2020 Annual Report

North Carolina’s Administrative Office of the Courts has issued its 2020 annual report on North Carolina’s Business Court.  A copy of the report can be found here.  These reports generally provide a thorough background concerning the North Carolina Business Court’s history, scope, and function for those looking to understand the Business Court.

Among the 2020 highlights, the most common case types designated by parties seeking to have their cases heard in the Business Court were “Corporations, Partnerships, LLCs” (51), “Trade Secrets” (34), “Contract Dispute over $1 million” (17), and “Intellectual Property” (15).  All other categories listed fewer than 10 cases each.

“As of December 31, 2020, 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), Gregory P. McGuire (Wake County Courthouse), Michael L. Robinson (Wake Forest University School of Law), Adam M. Conrad (Mecklenburg County Courthouse), and James L. Gale, Senior Business Court Judge (Elon University School of Law).”

“There were 212 cases pending in the Business Court as of December 31, 2020 (197 when counting a consolidated group of cases as one case). Of those 212 cases, 187 were assigned to the Business Court as mandatory complex business cases designated pursuant to G.S. 7A-45.4. The Chief Justice designated 13 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.”

“As of December 31, 2020, 35 of the Business Court’s 212 pending cases were subject to stay, appeal, or alternative dispute resolution. The average age of pending cases not subject to stay, appeal, or alternative dispute resolution (“active cases”) was 680 days, with a median age of 444 days. The average age of all pending cases was 744 days, with a median age of 541 days. The duration of a case may be affected by multiple stays or appeals throughout the life of the case.”

“In 2020, the Business Court issued 98 written opinions on motions and other matters, many involving issues of first impression. Consequently, these written 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. 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.’”