The Indiana Supreme Court this week established six commercial courts dedicated to resolving complex business disputes. In doing so, Indiana joins nearly two dozen states across the country that, since the early 1990s, have introduced specialized business courts in an attempt to provide a venue in which complex commercial matters can be adjudicated more efficiently and effectively.
The six Indiana business courts will begin accepting cases on June 1, 2016. One judge each in Allen, Elkhart, Vanderburgh, Floyd, Lake and Marion counties has been designated to hear complex business disputes. The purpose of these commercial courts, according to the Supreme Court’s order establishing them, is to improve court efficiency; allow business disputes to be resolved with expertise, technology and efficiency; enhance the accuracy, consistency and predictability of decisions in business cases; foster economic development; employ electronic information technologies, such as e-filing; and encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
In announcing the new project, court administrators stated, “These specialized trial courts will benefit all court users by resolving complex business cases more efficiently, which will afford more court resources for other case types.” They added, “The commercial courts also benefit businesses by promoting earlier and more frequent settlement of cases and predictable resolution of business disputes, which helps businesses make operational decisions.”
Precisely how the commercial courts will operate remains to be seen. What will constitute a commercial dispute eligible to be adjudicated in the specialized courts is not yet clear, nor is there any information regarding the procedures applicable in those cases. The Indiana Commercial Court Working Group, established last year to study the introduction of the specialized business courts, is expected to issue guidelines addressing case eligibility, assignment and transfer, commercial court masters and the publication of orders.