Starting January 1, 2020, Kentucky’s first Business Court Docket pilot project will be up and running in Jefferson County, with Circuit Judges Angela McCormick Bisig and Charles L. Cunningham serving as the inaugural Business Court Docket judges. The Business Court Docket will provide specialized attention for complex commercial cases, improve court efficiency for all litigants, and create a more attractive forum for doing business. Kentucky joins approximately 24 other states that have adopted a Business Court model.
“We know from speaking with business litigators that they – and especially their clients – are excited about the Business Court Docket and appreciate our efforts to focus on the unique needs of intra- and inter-company disputes,” Chief Justice John D. Minton said.
The Business Court Docket is an early success of the Supreme Court of Kentucky’s civil justice reform initiative, which was launched in 2018 to address concerns about the cost, delay and complexity of civil litigation. The Civil Justice Reform Commission is chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Lisabeth Hughes, who serves the 4th Supreme Court District. The commission consists of judges from all four levels of the court system, legislators from the Kentucky House and Senate, attorneys from the plaintiff’s and defense bars, a circuit court clerk and support staff from the Administrative Office of the Courts.
As a result of its first meeting in August 2018, the commission recommended that the Supreme Court develop a Business Court pilot project in one or more jurisdictions After evaluating data, it was determined that Jefferson County was the ideal jurisdiction for a pilot project based on the number of business case filings and interest among the circuit judges.
Taking a cue from other states with Business Courts, the Supreme Court created a Business Court Docket Advisory Committee, comprised of business litigators from Jefferson and Fayette counties. The committee developed eligibility criteria for the Business Court Docket and drafted a set of rules to guide everything from the assignment and transfer of cases to case management. The Supreme Court adopted the rules of practice in November 2019.
"I sincerely appreciate the members of the Business Court Docket Advisory Committee for their expertise and commitment in developing the rules and forms that will guide the work of Business Court,” Deputy Chief Justice Hughes said. “The committee members played a vital and indispensable role in helping the Court of Justice create the infrastructure necessary to successfully implement this pilot project. Because this specialized court holds such great promise for more cost-effective and timely resolution of business disputes, we look forward to expanding this concept beyond Jefferson County in the near future."