Maricopa County’s commercial court began as a pilot program and has now has been in place for three years. It is governed by rule 8.1 of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. Its purpose was to create a civil docket that is specifically designed to effectively and efficiently manage commercial litigation. The judges assigned to commercial courts are knowledgeable about commercial transactions and business litigation issues.
Cases heard in the commercial court must involve at least one plaintiff and one defendant who are business organizations. The primary issues of law and fact in the case must concern a business organization, transaction, or contract. In some commercial cases, there is no minimum required amount in controversy, but in Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) cases or coverage disputes under commercial insurance policies, the minimum amount in controversy is $50,000.
A key goal of the commercial court is to control litigation costs. The judge may not enter a scheduling order for these cases until in-person or telephonic scheduling conferences occur. The judges intend to be hands-on participants in the litigation from the very outset of each case and may adopt abbreviated motion practice and other case management tools to move commercial cases through the system more quickly.
The case management rules require the litigants to think carefully about, discuss, and (if possible) agree on issues pertaining to electronically stored information (ESI). The parties must meet and confer in detail on ESI and address it in their joint report. The issues include the requirements and limitations on the disclosure and production of ESI, the form or formats in which it is to be produced, and whether there will be any cost sharing shifting.
The commercial court also tends to frown on time consuming discovery disputes. Rather than rule on a party’s lengthy and expensive discovery motions, where hearings clog the court’s calendar and relief may take months to secure, the judge may require the parties to simply contact the court for an informal telephonic discussion, which can resolve the matter quickly and save the clients thousands of dollars in fees. And if that does not work, the court may limit the briefing to a few pages in length and have an expedited hearing.
It is mandatory that commercial cases be heard in the Maricopa County Commercial Court, although a party can file a motion to reconsider that the case be placed in the commercial court. Cases may initially be placed in the commercial court or a judge with a general civil docket can order a case transferred to the commercial court.
When your business is involved in any type of business dispute in the Maricopa County Commercial Court or in another venue, you need an experienced Arizona business litigation lawyer who can advocate for your interests from the outset of your case. We are here to examine the facts concerning your case, consider your options, and build the strongest case possible on your behalf. Contact Williams Mestaz, L.L.P., at (602) 256-9400 today, and set up an appointment to speak with us about your case.