Q&A

GENERAL INFORMATION

The Clerk of Court and Chambers are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  However, the Court understands that pressing matters arise outside of normal business hours, and should that occur, parties are encouraged to contact the Court’s Senior Staff Attorney, Lynette Jimenez, via email at jimenezl@gsbc.us, with a copy to afterhours@gsbc.us.

The Court is located in the Nathan Deal Judicial Center, though it has statewide jurisdiction, and the Court is working to establish areas around the State in which to hold court, starting with Macon.  The Court’s address, directions to the Court, parking information, and other similar resources can be found here.

As a new court, we recognize that it will be impossible to address the many questions parties, litigants, and others will have about the Business Court and its operations.  The questions and answers below are merely intended to be a starting point.

If you have additional questions, or would like additional detail, please contact the Court’s Senior Staff Attorney, Lynette Jimenez, at jimenezl@gsbc.us or (404) 463-8737.  Please also copy afterhours@gsbc.us if you need assistance after normal business hours.  For questions about filing cases in the Business Court, email filinghelp@gsbc.us.

Additional contact information for the Court can be found at www.gsbc.us/directory.

The two courts operate as separate and distinct classes of courts within the State’s judicial branch.  While the two courts are similar in many respects, there are also some notable differences – e.g., subject matter jurisdiction (see OCGA §15-5A-3) amount in controversy requirements (same), court rules, and standing orders, among other things.  You can find more information about the Metro Atlanta Business Case Division here.

The Court began accepting cases on August 1, 2020.

The Court’s jurisdiction is set forth in OCGA §15-5A-3. Notwithstanding the amount in controversy, where equitable relief is sought, the Court may exercise jurisdiction over claims:  

  • Arising under the Georgia Arbitration Code;  
  • Arising under the Georgia International Commercial Arbitration Code;  
  • Arising under the Georgia Trade Secrets Act of 1990; 
  • Involving securities, including but not limited to disputes arising under the Georgia Uniform Securities Act of 2008; 
  • Arising under the Uniform Commercial Code; 
  • Arising under the Georgia Business Corporation Code; 
  • Arising under the Uniform Partnership Act; 
  • Arising under the Georgia Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act;  
  • Arising under the Uniform Limited Partnership Act 
  • Arising under Georgia Limited Liability Company Act; 
  • That relate to the internal affairs of businesses, including, but not limited to, rights or obligations between or among business participants regarding the liability or indemnity of business participants, officers, directors, managers, trustees, or partners; 
  • Arising under federal law over which courts of this state have concurrent jurisdiction; 
  • Where the complaint includes a professional malpractice claim arising out of a business dispute; 
  • Involving tort claims between or among two or more business entities or individuals as to their business or investment activities relating to contracts, transactions, or relationships between or among such entities or individuals; 
  • For breach of contract, fraud, or misrepresentation between businesses arising out of business transactions or relationships; 
  • Arising from e-commerce agreements; technology licensing agreements, including, but not limited to, software and biotechnology license agreements; or any other agreement involving the licensing of any intellectual property right, including, but not limited to, an agreement relating to patent rights; and 
  • Involving commercial real property.  

Yes, where damages are requested, the amount in controversy must be at least $1 million for claims involving commercial real property or $500,000 for any claims listed above not involving commercial real property.

Yes, the Court may also exercise supplemental jurisdiction over all pending claims that are so related to the claims in cases provided for above that such pending claims form part of the same case or controversy. 

The Chicago Manual of Style speaks to the question of whether to hyphenate a compound word containing “wide” and advises keeping the word closed (i.e., no hyphen) if it is listed as such in Webster’s Dictionary.  “Statewide” is indeed listed in Webster’s as a standalone word – i.e., “-wide” is not used as a suffix to connect “state” and “wide.”  When used as a proper noun, however, as it is with the “Georgia State-wide Business Court,” a hyphen is appropriate.  Not complicated at all, right?

GETTING A CASE TO BUSINESS COURT

Cases are not assigned to the Business Court as they are in some other business-oriented courts (see e.g., the Metro Atlanta Business Case Division).

Instead, an action may be brought to the Business Court in one of three ways: (1) the direct filing of a pleading with the Business Court; (2) the filing of a Petition for Removal of an existing action from a superior or state court by agreement of all parties; or (3) the filing of a Petition to Transfer an existing action from a superior or state court by one or more parties, but not all parties. (See OCGA §15-5A-4.)

To effectuate transfer, there are a few steps parties should follow.  First, the removing or transferring parties should inform the underlying court that the case is being removed or transferred through the filing of a Notice of Removal or Notice of Transfer.

The parties should contemporaneously file a Petition for Removal or Petition to Transfer (see Proposed Rule 2-4 of the Rules of the Georgia State-wide Business Court).  If the Business Court grants the Petition through the issuance of an Order on the Business Court docket, the parties should inform the underlying Court of the same, and the parties, the Court, and the Superior or State Court from which the case is being removed or transferred will work together to effectuate the transfer of the docket to the Business Court.  There is additional information on the transfer of the docket immediately below.

A party who objects to the Business Court’s exercise of jurisdiction over a transferred case should follow the procedures set forth in the enabling legislation and Proposed Rule 2-4 of the Georgia State-wide Business Court, which requires the filing of an “Objection to Jurisdiction.”

Yes.  A Petition for Removal must be filed within 60 days of the action being filed in Superior or State Court. (See OCGA §15-5A-4(a)(2).)

A Petition to Transfer a case must be filed (a) within 60 days after receipt by all defendants through service of process of a copy of the initial pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon which the action is based, or (b) within 60 days after receipt by all defendants through service of process of a copy of an amended pleading, motion, or other document from which the petitioner may first ascertain that the case is transferable to the Business Court. (See OCGA §15-5A-4(a)(3).)

Yes, the parties may file a joint or consent petition to transfer under OCGA §15-5A-4(a)(3)(B) if the requirements of that subsection are otherwise satisfied.

Yes.  When petitioning to remove or to transfer a case, the Petition should include a copy of any filings and orders that will bear upon the Business Court’s exercise of jurisdiction in the case.  If the Petition is granted, the Court will work with the parties to have the underlying record properly certified and the case timely removed/transferred.

A party or parties seeking to remove or transfer a pending case from Superior or State Court to the Georgia State-wide Business Court should be prepared to transfer the entire docket in the underlying case.  The Court’s Clerk of Court, Angie Davis, and Senior Staff Attorney, Lynette Jimenez, have considerable experience working with Superior and State Courts throughout the State, and will be available to assist the parties to effectuate the removal or transfer.  

Whether it is worth it is probably in the “eye of the beholder.”  That said, the Court has taken steps to eliminate, to the extent possible, most other court fees litigants commonly incur in connection with litigating in Georgia trial courts.  As such, the only other significant fees litigants in the Court will incur are in connection with pro hac vice applications. It is also worth noting that the Court does not retain either the filing fee or the pro hac vice fee.  The former is remitted to the State Treasury, and the latter is remitted to the State Bar of Georgia and the Georgia Bar Foundation.

LITIGATING IN THE BUSINESS COURT

Please see www.gsbc.us/rules for more information on the Court’s rules, orders, and forms.  In short, the Business Court will start under an interim arrangement, whereby a case will be governed by the Court’s Standing Order, a case-specific Case Management Order, and the Superior Court Rules.  This information is all accessible on the Court’s website under Rules, Orders & Forms. 

Yes.  A party can initiate a case through PeachCourt by e–filing a pleading in the Georgia State-wide Business Court that is not already pending in a Superior or State court.  To register for PeachCourt, sign up for a webinar, and to access other e–filing resources, please visit the PeachCourt website.

Judge Walt Davis has been appointed to serve as the inaugural judge of the Georgia State-wide Business Court and is the sole judge on the Court.  For more information on Judge Davis, please click here.

While the Court is located in Atlanta, pre-trial proceedings – whether they be arguments, conferences, or otherwise – can be held in Atlanta or another location convenient to the parties.  The Court is committed to working with the parties to ensure that the Court is available to all who do business in Georgia, regardless of where they are located.  As such, Judge Davis is committed to “riding circuit” so to speak, if that is in the best interest of the parties and the case.

The Business Court’s courtroom and associated attorney conference rooms in the Nathan Deal Judicial Center in Atlanta are expected to rival that of any trial court in the country.  Construction of the courtroom is ongoing and is expected to be completed in early-November 2020.  For CGI renderings, construction photos and other information regarding the courtroom and available technology, click here.  In the meantime, the Business Court was also built to facilitate remote pre-trial proceedings statewide, a particularly important consideration during the current public health crisis.  The Business Court is committed to working with parties to adjudicate cases in a timely and efficient manner, even in a remote and “socially distanced” environment.

The answer is . . . it depends.  The enabling legislation starts with a presumption favoring bench trials, and as with pre-trial proceedings, there is great flexibility in where and how those occur.  For jury trials, however, the rules are notably different.  By law, jury trials in Business Court are treated the same as jury trials in the State’s other trial courts, and Judge Davis would preside over the jury trial in the venue where the case could have been brought in the first instance. 

While the Business Court’s courtroom has been designed specifically to accommodate bench trials, oral argument, and other proceedings, whether remote or in-person, it was not designed to accommodate jury trials for two reasons.  First, the Nathan Deal Judicial Center, which was completed in late-2019, was not originally designed with the Business Court in mind.  As such, security concerns and space limitations make holding jury trials in the building impractical and imprudent and would likely cause significant disruption to the operations of the other courts and agencies in the building.

Second, the enabling legislation that created the Business Court contemplates that litigants in the Business Court are entitled to opt for a trial by jury, and that such trial is to occur in the venue where the case could have been brought in the first instance, with the Business Court judge presiding.  Consequently, the Business Court will not hold jury trials in the Nathan Deal Judicial Center, but instead will work with local courts and counsel for the parties, among others, to facilitate the holding of jury trials in the appropriate venues throughout the State.

Process may be served by:

  • The sheriff of the county where the action is brought or where the defendant is found or by such sheriff’s deputy (OCGA §9-11-4(c)(1));
  • Any citizen of the United States specially appointed by the Business Court for that purpose (OCGA §9-11-4(c)(3)); or
  • A certified process server as provided in OCGA §9-11-4.1 (OCGA §9-11-4(c)(5)).

The Georgia State Patrol will not serve process on behalf of the Business Court.

No.  The Court does not have a dedicated court reporter on staff.  The responsibility for securing court reporting services will be on the parties to the case, and the Court will work with the parties to appropriately document and preserve the record of proceedings in the case. 

Yes.  If any party requires foreign language and/or sign language interpretation services for any proceeding, the Court will make every effort to arrange for an approved interpreter to assist with the proceeding. The parties must contact the Court as soon as the need for a language interpreter becomes apparent so as not to delay any scheduled proceedings.  

Please contact the Court’s Senior Staff Attorney, Lynette Jimenez, for questions about accessibility accommodations.  Ms. Jimenez can be reached at jimenezl@gsbc.us or at (404) 463-8737.  

Attorneys seeking admission to appear before the Business Court pro hac vice must submit an application that conforms with the Court’s Standing Order

ELECTRONIC FILING

Yes.  All counsel and self-represented parties must register and participate in the Court’s electronic filing (“e-file”) system, PeachCourt.  All filings to the Business Court must be electronically filed and served through the PeachCourt system.

If any self-represented party requires an accommodation or to opt-out of the electronic filing system, they should make the request in writing to the Court specifying the requested accommodation or the reason the party is unable to use the electronic filing system.  The request must be served on all parties/counsel.  The Court will address such requests on a case by case basis.

To register for a PeachCourt account, please visit: https://peachcourt.com/.  For training, information, and resources regarding electronic filing and the PeachCourt system, please visit: http://awesome.peachcourt.com/.

For PeachCourt account and registration information, please visit: https://peachcourt.com/ 

For training, tips, and other efiling resources, please visit: http://awesome.peachcourt.com/

No, you do not need an account specific to the Business Court.  Your existing PeachCourt credentials will work.

No.  There is no charge to e-file into an existing Business Court case.

If you need assistance navigating the e-filing process, please use the orange chat box in the lower right hand corner of the PeachCourt website or contact PeachCourt at info@peachcourt.com or (770) 834-3453.  PeachCourt’s support team is available 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Feel free to also contact the Clerk’s office for filing assistance via telephone at (404) 656-6620 or by e-mail at filinghelp@gsbc.us.

Once signed into PeachCourt, if you would like to initiate a new case or to e-file a petition to remove or to transfer an existing case from a state or superior court:

  • Go to “New Case.”
  • Click the green “Business Court” box in the upper right hand side of the screen.
  • Follow the prompts to e-file your document(s).

If you wish to search for an existing Business Court case:

  • Go to “Case Search.”
  • Click the green “Search Business Court” box in the upper right hand side of the screen.
  • Follow the prompts to search using a Business Court case number or party name.

Yes.  You may only upload documents as a PDF.  Also, it is recommended that you limit the total file size of your documents to 25 MB.  If you need to file a large document, below are a few tips:

  • Try compressing the size of your PDF. If you need assistance with compressing documents, please contact PeachCourt using the orange chat box in the lower right hand corner of the PeachCourt website.  You can also contact them at info@peachcourt.com or (770) 834-3453.  PeachCourt’s support team is available 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Feel free to also contact the Clerk’s office for filing assistance at filinghelp@gsbc.us or (404) 656-6620.
  • Try splitting up the document. For example, you may e-file a motion and e-file the related exhibits separately under a Notice of Filing Exhibits.  If you have questions or need information regarding splitting up filings, please contact Ms. Jimenez at jimenezl@gsbc.us or (404) 463-8737.

E-service is not currently available if you are commencing a proceeding in the Business Court—whether by initiating a new case or filing a petition to remove or to transfer an existing case from another court.  (That feature will be available soon.)

However, after that initial filing is accepted and a case number is assigned, when you e-file your next document, during the e-filing process you will be able to identify people to receive e-service.  With e-service, as soon as the Clerk accepts your filing, PeachCourt will send an e-mail notification to each person you identify.  The notification will include a description of your filing and a link to download a PDF of each document you e-filed.

Also, moving forward, anyone who e-files a document into the case will be added as an “e-Filer of Record” and will be e-served.  But don’t forget, PeachCourt will only automatically add e-Filers of Record in the case you are e-filing into for e-service.  Always review the list of service recipients on the Electronic Service page to ensure all intended recipients are included.  You can add additional recipients from the PeachCourt user search option or by adding an e-mail address under the Non-PeachCourt user section.

It is important to remember, if your e-filing is rejected, the PeachCourt system will save the information you have already entered so that you can easily correct the problem and resubmit the e-filing.

When an e-filing is rejected, you will receive an e-mail with a message from the Clerk of Court stating the reason it was rejected and with additional instructions, if appropriate.  The e-mail will include a link which will direct you back to your e-filing submission in PeachCourt so that you can edit it accordingly and resubmit it.  Note, if the resubmitted e-filing is then accepted, it will be stamped with the date and time the document was successfully resubmitted, not the date and time of the original filing attempt.

The Clerk of Court will review e-file submissions and will generally accept or reject them within 48 hours after submission.  File stamped copies are e-mailed to the filer immediately upon acceptance by the Clerk.

You can e-file into PeachCourt using any browser, but Google Chrome often works best.

No.  If a document is efiled through PeachCourt, parties do not need to manually file the same paper documents with the Clerk of the Business Court.  However, the Court may require the submission of a paper courtesy copy to chambers.  To inquire whether the Court would like a paper courtesy copy of any filing, please contact the Court’s Senior Staff Attorney, Lynette Jimenez, at jimenezl@gsbc.us or (404) 463-8737.  

Filing parties must ensure they properly serve all parties in accordance with Georgia law.  See, e.g., OCGA §9-11-5.

COMMUNICATING WITH THE COURT

The Court will generally communicate with case parties through e-mail and will electronically file all notices and orders.  The Court can be reached at any time by e-mail or telephone through the Court’s Senior Staff Attorney, Lynette Jimenez, who can be reached at jimenezl@gsbc.us and (404) 463-8737.

Parties and the general public are able to access the Court’s documents in one of two ways – via PeachCourt or via Westlaw.  Regarding the former, parties will not be charged to access documents in their own case through PeachCourt.  However, there will be a cost of $0.10 per page for the general public to access documents in Business Court cases.  You must have a debit or credit card on file with PeachCourt to pay the access fees.

The Court has also arranged for Westlaw to have access to the Court’s documents in a timely fashion so that all orders and other substantive filings will be accessible on that site.  The Court is working on a similar arrangement with LexisNexis, and the website will be updated when this arrangement is finalized.