Business courts in Florida for commercial litigation

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

As you may know, specialized courts in Florida, called business courts, are used to process commercial lawsuits. Business courts were authorized by state law, and the first such court was set up in Orlando, Florida in 2004.

In the ensuing eight years, the first business court has handled the trial or settlement of over 3,600 cases, facilitating their rapid processing by making sure that a judge well versed in handling commercial litigation is able to focus his or her attention on such claims. Business cases handled have included disputes over franchises, intellectual property lawsuits, and antitrust claims, as well as construction litigation, real estate, and commercial foreclosure disputes.

The Orlando business court was successful enough that the concept spread to both Miami and Tampa by 2007. A similar but somewhat distinct variation on the business court model was established in Fort Lauderdale in 2008, with the special court hearing both the types of business disputes the other specialized court hearings, as well as product liability and medical malpractice claims.

Judges with expertise and a track record of managing commercial litigation can move cases along at a faster pace, proponents of the concept assert. Such litigation can be complex, and businesspeople appreciate having access to judges who can focus on their problems.

Some still see room for improvement in the business court experiment, however, advocating that better funding and more adequate support staff should be provided in light of the heavy caseload. Some business court judges may have as many as 500 cases on their docket.

Specialized business courts were almost unheard of before the early 1990’s, but now exist in over 20 states, according to the National Center for State Courts.

Source: Florida Trend, “Florida’s business courts,” Feb. 3, 2012