COMPLEX/COMMERCIAL BUSINESS LITIGATION
Commercial, or business, litigation can be simply described as litigation involving at least one business enterprise in a dispute over some amount of money. Commercial litigation encompasses breach of contracts associated with goods and services as well as, for example, products liability actions, employment law claims, and internal corporate governance. Causes of action often associated with commercial litigation also includes unjust enrichment, unfair and deceptive trade practices, fraud, fraud in the inducement, fraudulent conveyances, trade secret infringement, and breach of the warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, to name a few. Trey’s broad experience includes all those issues and causes of action, as well as various others.

The North Carolina civil court system is divided into three tiers: small claims, district court, and superior court. Due to recent changes in the law, small claims jurisdiction has been raised to a cap of $10,000, district court to $25,000, and superior court for disputes above $25,000. Although parties in small claims court often represent themselves, it is typically wise to consult a lawyer prior to filing suit. Parties without lawyers often find themselves at a severe disadvantage.

Companies must be represented by counsel at the district and superior court levels; presidents, owners, etc. are not allowed to serve as counsel unless they are also licensed lawyers. Navigating the court system and its various rules and procedures is a difficult process, one that requires an experienced and qualified lawyer.

The North Carolina Business Court is a specialized forum dedicated to complex and significant issues of corporate governance and commercial law. Cases must meet certain criteria to be considered sufficiently complex to require being heard by the Business Court. As to those complex business cases, the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court assigns them to a Special Superior Court Judge who presides over the case through all motions and trial. Trey has handled a number of matters before the North Carolina Business Court and can assist you should you have a dispute involving complex business litigation.

For the North Carolina Business Court Local Rules, click here.


What types of cases was the Business Court created to handle?

The North Carolina Business Court was designed to preside over seven specific types of matters:
  • The law of corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and limited liability partnerships (LLPs);
  • Securities law matters;
  • Antitrust law controversies, except disputes solely based on unfair competition as governed by Chapter 75 of the North Carolina General Statutes;
  • State trademark or unfair competition law disputes unless based on unfair competition as governed by Chapter 75 of the North Carolina General Statutes;
  • Intellectual property, including software licensing disputes;
  • Issues relating to the Internet, electronic commerce, and biotechnology; and
  • Contested tax cases pursuant to Article 4 of Chapter 150B of the North Carolina General Statutes.

How do I get a case assigned to the Business Court?

If you are a plaintiff, you must file a Notice of Designation contemporaneously with the lawsuit in the county where the action originated and then serve it, the lawsuit, and the civil summons on the opposing party, the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, and Chief Special Superior Court Judge for Complex Business Cases.

For most cases, it would also be prudent to include an alternative request in the Notice of Designation that the Chief Justice designate the case an “exceptional” or “complex business” case pursuant to Rule 2.1 and 2.2 of the General Rules of Practice for the Superior and District Courts. If the lawsuit does not meet the strictures of the seven enumerated and mandatory grounds for subject matter jurisdiction in the Business Court, it may retain jurisdiction pursuant to those rules.

If you are a defendant, the Notice of Designation must be filed within thirty (30) days of receipt of the lawsuit. The Business Court strictly adheres to this deadline—motions for extensions of time to answer the lawsuit will not extend the deadline to file the Notice of Designation. Equally important, filing a Notice of Designation constitutes a general appearance, so objections to lack of personal jurisdiction, insufficiency of process, or insufficiency of service of process must be raised in the Notice of Designation or will be waived.

For parties seeking to intervene in a lawsuit, the Notice of Designation must be filed contemporaneously with the Motion to Intervene.

What information must the Notice of Designation contain?

The Notice of Designation must contain the basis of designation and a certificate by or on behalf of the designating party that the lawsuit meets the criteria for designation as a mandatory complex business case.

A template Notice of Designation can be found in the Business Court Local Rules as Form 1.

What is the filing fee?

The non-refundable filing fee for the Business Court is $1,000 and is due immediately upon receipt of an Order assigning the case to the Business Court.

If I missed the deadline to remove the case to the Business Court, is there any way to still have the case heard there?

Yes. Rule 2.1 and 2.2 of the General Rules of Practice for the Superior and District Courts gives the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court discretion to designate any case an “exceptional” or “complex business” case. Confer with the local rules of the particular county, but the first step in that process is typically requesting a recommendation from the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge.

How do I ask that a case not be removed to the Business Court?

If a case is designated and does not meet the procedural or substantive requirements for a mandatory complex business case, any party may file an opposition to the Notice of Designation within thirty (30) days. Any response to the opposition must be filed within fifteen (15) days. The Chief Special Superior Court Judge for Complex Business Court rules on motions in opposition and may also decide on his/her own accord that the case does not meet the mandatory requirements for the Business Court.

What are the filing procedures for the Business Court?

Although electronic filing is not required, most parties do so. Originals must still be filed in the county having venue.

What are the rules regarding service of documents filed with the Business Court?

Although all electronic filings are disseminated among the various parties via e-mail, all documents must still be served according to Rule 5 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure unless the parties enter a stipulation otherwise.


The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure dictate how civil (i.e., not criminal) cases are conducted in federal courts from the initiation of a lawsuit through the conclusion of trial.

The Federal Rules of Evidence dictate what items are permissibly considered in legal proceedings to secure fairness in administration and eliminate unjustifiable expense and delay.

The North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure dictate how civil (i.e., not criminal) cases are conducted in North Carolina state courts from the initiation of a lawsuit through the conclusion of trial.

The North Carolina Rules of Evidence dictate what items are permissibly considered in legal proceedings to secure fairness in administration and eliminate unjustifiable expense and delay.

The Uniform Commercial Code (Various States) creates standard provisions for how certain commercial transactions, such as the sale of goods or secured transactions, are conducted.


Other questions about this or whether you have a claim? Click here