Kade Cullefer: Vote Yes on Amendment #2 to Establish a Statewide Business Court in Georgia
Thursday, November 1st, 2018
What is a business court and why is it important?
Business courts are specialized courts designed to efficiently provide resolution of commercial cases
that, due to their complexity, can take time and resources away from other pending matters. These
cases, in which millions of dollars are often on the line, typically involve multiple witnesses and
thousands of pages of evidence that must be considered. The court would provide much needed relief
to an already taxed judicial system while ensuring businesses located in or considering a move to
Georgia have the ability for their matters to be resolved in a fair and timely manner, impacting their
ability to grow and create jobs, or in some cases even remain open.
While the resolution of these cases is critical to the businesses involved, they often get relegated to the
bottom of the docket in state or superior courts due to the constitutional obligation of the courts to first
hear criminal, divorce and land cases. Consequently, businesses in some cases have waited for years for
a decision, forcing many to file bankruptcy, or close, because they could not move forward with their
business plan. As a result, both jobs and contributions to Georgia’s tax base are lost forever.
As important as timeliness is judicial expertise. Most jurists do not have extensive experience dealing
with the specialized subject matter involved in complex commercial cases. Amendment #2 would
permit the governor to appoint business court judges with the appropriate knowledge and experience to
five-year terms with the confirmation of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. As a result, when
a case is brought before the new business court, litigants on both sides will be heard by a judge familiar
with the appropriate area of the law.
With a business court, all parties involved in a dispute will benefit from faster resolution of cases,
resulting in lower litigation costs, enhanced predictability, less time in court and improved case
management. Additionally, when these time-consuming cases are removed from the general docket,
state and superior courts will be able to move their other cases more quickly. This has borne out in both
Fulton and Gwinnett Counties, which currently have local business courts - and we believe that all
Georgia counties would benefit from the same access, especially as we work to attract new economic
development in every area of the state. In addition, as Georgia seeks to maintain its economic
competitiveness, it is important to note that our neighbors in North Carolina and South Carolina both
have statewide business courts that are working well. If we want to remain the top state for business
and job growth we must continue to make ourselves even more attractive than our neighbors - which
includes the creation of a court system that is efficient and responsive.
Amendment #2 would come at no cost to Georgia taxpayers. The business court would be a self-sustaining entity, funded entirely by the fees paid by a party who requests its case be moved to the
business court. It would also permit trials to be held in the county where the case was originally filed.
Statistics from existing business courts show that the vast majority of cases are fully resolved in less than one year and most motions decided within 30 days. These time frames are approximately half as long as it takes similar cases to make their way through the state and superior courts. The statewide business court will ultimately make our government more efficient while better serving the needs of both citizens and employers across Georgia.
We encourage all voters to vote YES on Amendment #2 on the general election ballot this year.
Kade Cullefer is the Executive Director of Georgians for Lawsuit Reform. GLR is Georgia’s leading advocate focused on improving Georgia’s legal climate through political, legislative and judicial engagement.