Iowa Banking Law Blog
Courting business: Iowa Civil Justice Task Force recommends specialized business courts
Mar. 15, 2012 – John E. Lande, Iowa Banking Law Blog
On March 14 the Iowa Civil Justice Task Force (“Task Force”) released recommendations for reforming the state’s civil justice system, including a recommendation to implement specialized “business courts” in Iowa.
The business court concept is not new. According to the Task Force’s report, twenty states already have some kind of specialty business court, while another three states are in the process of introducing a specialized docket for business cases.
Before Iowa can launch its own business court system, however, two important issues must be addressed. The first is the scope of the court’s jurisdiction. What kinds of cases will the business court hear? The second issue involves judges. How will the judges be chosen, and what rules will those judges use?
Scope of the Court’s Jurisdiction
The Iowa Civil Justice Task Force recommends an approach similar to North Carolina’s, with certain subject matter areas that would presumptively lead to business court jurisdiction, and without a minimum dollar amount that would determine a case’s qualification for the business docket. A case falling into one of the categories listed below would presumptively be included in business court jurisdiction, although the Task Force points out that other states’ experience with business courts has made clear that flexibility will be key to the docket’s success. In addition, the Task Force recommendations provide that certain cases not meeting the following criteria could opt in to the business docket.
The Task Force also recommends that the following types of cases be presumptively excluded from business court jurisdiction:
Judges and Court Rules
Once the district court judges are selected, those judges would then have the authority to draft special rules for the new court. Task Force members anticipate that in drafting these rules, the business court judges will consult with attorneys who routinely represent clients in business matters.
It seems likely that many of the Task Force’s other recommendations would also be implemented in the specialty business courts. Some of these recommendations include assigning one judge to a single case for the entire duration of a litigation matter, strictly enforcing discovery deadlines through fines, and adopting initial disclosure requirements similar to Rule 26 in federal court.
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