Georgia businesses will soon see signs of hope—at least, they will if HR 993 becomes law.
In recent years, Georgia’s lawsuit climate has hit an all-time low. The 2017 edition of the national Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States, conducted by Harris Poll and released by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) ranked Georgia 40 out of 50, nationally. In 2012, Georgia ranked 24th in the same survey. Given that the survey respondents are senior business leaders, and that 85% of them agreed that a state’s lawsuit climate is likely to impact major business decisions such as where to locate or expand, a 40th-place ranking indicates a damaging lack of confidence in Georgia’s civil justice system.
With HR 993, which would amend the state constitution to create a statewide court specializing in business-to-business cases, Georgia legislators would directly address that lack of confidence by improving judgment predictability, increasing speed, and prioritizing judicial expertise in complex commercial litigation.
The measure itself is tried and tested. North and South Carolina have both seen positive results from business courts—and in fact, so has Georgia, albeit on a small scale.
The Metro Atlanta Business Case Division, a pilot business court, has been operational in Fulton County since 2005, expanding to include Gwinnett County in 2016. A recent study has shown that cases assigned to the Metro Atlanta Court take half as long to resolve as complex commercial cases on the regular docket. That reduced litigation time means lower costs for litigants on all sides. Furthermore, a satisfaction survey conducted in 2011 revealed that 88% of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with their experience with the Fulton Court.
Beyond making the litigation process more efficient for businesses, a business court would remove time-consuming cases from the regular docket, helping to clear a clogged court system and improve the civil justice process for every Georgian.
ILR fully supports HR 993, and urges both chambers of the state legislature take a powerful step to improve the business climate in Georgia by giving it the two-thirds majority vote it needs.