Commercial & Corporate Law

Indiana’s New Commercial Courts: Waiting for Work

by Allison Skimehorn, 2L Note Candidate

j16_4152Business courts may have gotten their start over 220 years ago in United States, but they are brand new to Indiana. The Indiana’s Commercial Court Pilot Project began just this June, with jurisdictions that span over the entire state. Tyler Moorhead’s article poignantly lists some of the great advantages these courts can provide, such as efficiency, common law predictability and their progressive use of technology. However, since the June 1st start date, it appears that cases on commercial court dockets have been slow to take off.  For example, the Lake, Floyd and Vanderburgh branches have not had a single filing as of September 28, 2016. Dave Stafford, Commercial court cases increase; dockets now accessible online, The Indiana Lawyer (September 28, 2016), http://www.theindianalawyer.com/commercial-court-cases-increase-dockets-now-accessible-online/PARAMS/article/41568 [https://perma.cc/VR7S-GKWF].  This absence maybe due to the fact that the court will only take cases filed after June 1st of this year and, of course, that the court is still very new.  As of now, the commercial court does remain voluntary, allowing a party to opt out of it within 30 days. However, this may change if the three year pilot is renewed indefinitely. This would eventually help those slower counties get a hold of more cases for their docket.

Another interesting part of Moorhead’s article discusses the court’s embrace of new technology. From e-discovery to litigant video conferencing, it is apparent that commercial courts are ready to take the dive into the modern era. Utilizing technology, while maintaining judicial integrity, helps lend a hand to shortening complex contract and tort claims dramatically. The article references a study that found that complex contract claims can be handled at an average of 1,138 days more quickly than their civil court counterparts.  The slow trickle of cases into the Indiana Commercial Court docket could possibly elicit a much faster turnaround time than similar complex cases in an already behind and strapped civil court system.

With the clear benefit of efficiency and technological flexibility, it’s quite a surprise that the Commercial Court Pilot Project has not been completely inundated with work. However, the project is still very new to Indiana, and will likely grow in popularity once these benefits are more clearly realized.  This specialized court has been around for 220 years, and spread to twenty-seven states due to its effectiveness, but sometimes things just take time. To learn more about this topic, check out Tyler Moorhead’s note in this issue of the Indiana Law Review. Moorhead, Tyler, Business Courts: Their Advantages, Implementation Strategies, and Indiana’s Pursuit of Its Own, 50 Ind. L. Rev. 397 (2016) (available at http://mckinneylaw.iu.edu/ilr/pdf/vol50p397.pdf).