Business Court FAQs

Find answers to common questions about Business Court.

How does a case get assigned to the Business Court?For a brief overview of the designation procedure, click here. For more information regarding designation, see N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-45.4 and Rule 2 of the General Rules of Practice and Procedure for the North Carolina Business Court. Questions regarding notices of designation and assignment of cases should be directed to Thomas W. Estes.

Which judge will be assigned to preside over my case?Once a case has been designated to the Business Court by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, the Chief Business Court Judge assigns the case to a Business Court judge. Although geography may play a part in this decision, it is certainly not the only factor. Other considerations include the current case load of each judge, the area of law, conflicts of interest, and any related cases in the Court.

How do I get a case that has been designated to the Business Court back to regular civil superior court?Within thirty (30) days of service of a notice of designation, any party may file and serve an opposition to the designation of the action as a mandatory complex business case. The opposition must assert all grounds on which the party objects to designation. The opposition must be filed, served on all interested parties, and sent by email to Thomas W. Estes. Any other party may file a response to the opposition within fifteen days of service of the opposition or as otherwise ordered by the Court.

The Chief Business Court Judge rules on all oppositions to designation. The Chief Judge may also determine ex mero motu that an action should not be designated as a mandatory complex business case. If the case is no longer designated as a mandatory complex business case, the action will proceed on the regular civil superior court docket in the county of venue. Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-45.4(e), the Chief Judge’s decision regarding an opposition to designation may be appealed in accordance with N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-27(a).

What if a case meets the substantive requirements for mandatory complex business designation but a party fails to designate within the requisite period of time?Rule 2.1 of the General Rules of Practice for the Superior and District Courts gives the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina discretion to designate any case as an “exceptional” or “complex business” case. Cases meeting the requirements for designation as "complex business cases" pursuant to Rule 2.1 of the General Rules of Practice may be assigned to a Business Court judge by the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice has implemented a procedure that, absent exceptional circumstances, the business court judges are only assigned those cases qualifying for complex business case designation pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-45.4(b) (often referred to as a “mandatory-mandatory” complex business case).

Section 7A-45.4 outlines the procedure for requesting designation for cases governed by that section. If your case does not fall within that section, or if you have failed to seek timely designation under that section, then you may request to have your case considered for designation under Rule 2.1 by a request made to the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge in the county of venue. Conventions and practices regarding Rule 2.1 designation may vary by county.

Certain cases governed by section 7A-45.4(b) must only be heard by a business court judge and another judge asked to hear them will sua sponte stay the action until it has been designated as a mandatory complex business case by the party required to do so under section 7A-45.4(b).

If a case is designated to the Business Court, are the parties required to change venue and try the case in a Business Court courtroom (Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, or Winston-Salem)?No. The North Carolina Business Court is not a court of jurisdiction; it is an administrative division of the General Court of Justice. While motions and pretrial matters will typically be heard in the Business Court courtroom assigned to the presiding Business Court judge, all jury trials will be held in the county of venue where the case was filed. Non-jury trials may be held in a Business Court courtroom, upon the consent of all parties.

How do I electronically file a notice of appearance in a Business Court case?First locate your case on the Court’s electronic-filing interface and select “eFile.”

If the party that you represent is already listed on the electronic docket for your case, select “Notice of Appearance” from the dropdown list for Document Type and upload your notice. Your notice of appearance will go to the Court’s work queue for approval. Once the notice is approved, the filing is complete and counsel is associated to the case for purposes of filing and receiving notices of electronic filing.

If the party that you represent is not listed on the electronic docket for your case, select “Add Parties” in the dropdown list for Document Type and upload your notice of appearance into the Add Parties web form. Your notice of appearance and Add Parties web-form data will arrive in the Court’s work queue for approval. Once the notice is approved, the filing is complete and counsel is associated to the case for purposes of filing and receiving notices of electronic filing.

Is use of the Business Court's electronic-filing system mandatory?Except as otherwise specified in the Business Court Rules, all filings in the Business Court must be made electronically through the Court's electronic-filing system beginning immediately upon designation of the action to the Business Court by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina or assignment to a Business Court judge pursuant to Rule 2.1 of the General Rules of Practice.

Are parties who use the electronic-filing system required to also file hard copies of pleadings and other documents with the Clerk of Superior Court?Any material filed with the Business Court that is listed in Rule 5(d) of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure must also be filed with the Clerk of Superior Court in the county of venue within five business days of the date of filing with the Court. The Clerk of Superior Court in the county of venue maintains the official file for all Business Court cases. Briefs need not be filed with the Clerk of Court.

Special rules may apply to filings not governed by Civil Procedure Rule 5(d). For example, a written notice of appeal from an order or judgment of the Court must be filed with the Clerk of Superior Court within the time and in the manner provided by the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Do parties who use the Court's electronic-filing system still have to serve opposing counsel?After an action has been designated as a mandatory complex business case or otherwise assigned to the Business Court, the issuance by the Court's electronic-filing system of a notice of filing constitutes adequate service of the filed document under the Rules of Civil Procedure. Service by other means is not required unless the party served is a pro se party (see Business Court Rule 3.9(e)).

What are the format requirements for electronically filed documents?The Court's electronic-filing system currently accepts the following file formats: .rtf, .doc, .pdf, and .jpg. Pleadings, motions, and briefs filed electronically must not be filed in an optically scanned format, unless special circumstances dictate otherwise. Proposed orders submitted to the Court for routine motions should be e-filed in rich text (.rtf) or Microsoft Word (.doc) format in a 12-point, proportional font, and should accompany the related motion. The electronic file name for each document filed with the Court must clearly identify its contents.

How should an attorney inform the Business Court of designated secure-leave periods?Designations of secure leave should be e-filed in each case in which an attorney is involved.