The Wisconsin Supreme Court has approved a pilot program (the “Pilot Program”) to create a dedicated trial court judicial docket for large business and commercial cases in the state of Wisconsin.
The Pilot Program will commence in July 2017 in Waukesha County and in the 8th Judicial District of Wisconsin (comprising Brown County, Marinette County, Outagamie County, Kewaunee County and Door County), and will run for a three-year trial period.
Brick N. Murphy, U.W. 1995, is an attorney with Conway Olejniczak & Jerry, S.C., Green Bay, where he specializes in business entity choice, mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring, strategic alliances, finance arrangements, and commercial real estate development and leasing.
With the adoption of the Pilot Program, Wisconsin will join 26 other states that have instituted some form of specialized docket that focuses on business and commercial cases.
Improved Speed, More Predictable Outcomes
Studies from these states have shown that a dedicated business law docket greatly improves the speed in resolving commercial disputes and resulted in more predictable outcomes for business cases. Business-focused tribunals have proven to be an effective tool for economic development and business retention, most notably in Delaware and New York – each has operated some form of business dispute focused judicial branch since the 1990s. At present, each of Wisconsin’s neighbors have adopted a court docket charged with handling complex business disputes. Implementation of this Pilot Program is therefore an important step forward to ensure that Wisconsin remains competitive with its neighbors.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hold a public hearing on Feb. 16, 2017, to secure comments on the Pilot Program from the public. This hearing is the final step in the process required before the Supreme Court formally implements the program within Waukesha County and the 8th Judicial District in July 2017.
Support of the Business Law Section
The board of directors of the Business Law Section has submitted a letter to the Supreme Court in support of the Pilot Program. Representatives from the board will appear at the Supreme Court’s public hearing to lend additional support to this important measure.
The letter details the section’s rationale in supporting the program:
- A dedicated business court docket will enhance the consistency, predictability, and accuracy of decisions in complicated business cases;
- A dedicated business court docket will enhance efficiency for commercial disputes through proactive case management, swift resolutions and early alternate dispute resolution;
- A dedicated business court docket will attract and retain businesses in Wisconsin and provide for a more desirable forum for resolving business disputes;
- A dedicated business court docket will make repeated disputes less likely to occur due to guidance provided by ongoing commercial court decisions; and
- A dedicated business court docket will make Wisconsin a “go to” state for early stage businesses and venture capital investors who strongly prefer to conduct business in a jurisdiction capable of resolving complicated business disputes in an efficient manner.
The Business Law Section will provide additional information to members regarding the specific types of cases which will be assigned to the business court docket and an update as to the expected roll out of the Pilot Program following the Supreme Court’s public hearing on Feb. 16.
Please do not hesitate to contact Randal Brotherhood or Brick Murphy to discuss any questions regarding this important initiative for Wisconsin businesses.