Tennessee joins a growing number of states that have developed specialized courts exclusively for business related disputes. Tennessee has created a new Business Court in Nashville for complex business litigation. The new Business Court was created by the Tennessee Supreme Court as pilot program “to meet the litigation needs of existing and future businesses” in Tennessee. A copy of the Order establishing the Business Court can be found here.
Cases eligible for the Business Court must involve at least $50,000 in controversy, or seek injunctive or declaratory relief, and:
- relate to the internal affairs of businesses (i.e., corporations, limited liability companies, general partnerships, limited liability partnerships, sole proprietorships, professional associations, real estate investment trusts, and joint ventures), including the rights or obligations between or among shareholders, partners, and members, or the liability or indemnity of officers, directors, managers, trustees or partners;
- involve claims of breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty or statutory violations between businesses arising out of business transactions or relationships;
- constitute a shareholder derivative or commercial class action;
- involve commercial real property disputes other than residential landlord-tenant disputes and foreclosures;
- involve business 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 them;
- arise from technology licensing agreements, including software and biotechnology licensing agreements, or any agreement involving the licensing of any intellectual property right, including patent rights;
- constitute an action alleging violations of a noncompete, non solicitation, or confidentiality agreement, or an antitrust, trade secret, or securities-related action; or,
- commercial construction contract disputes and/or commercial construction defect claims.
The existing Davidson County Chancery Court, Part III (Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle) is designated to serve as the Business Court.
I believe that the new Business Court will be effective in creating a sound body of law for business disputes in Tennessee. More importantly, having an exclusive Business Court will likely lead to more consistent results and provide an increased level of predictability for business clients engaged in business and commercial disputes.