ASSEMBLY, No. 1694

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  DAVID C. RUSSO

District 40 (Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic)

Assemblyman  UPENDRA J. CHIVUKULA

District 17 (Middlesex and Somerset)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Creates a Business Court.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act establishing a Business Court and supplementing Title 2B of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1. The Legislature of the State of New Jersey finds and declares that:

     a. The quality and consistency of decision-making in the resolution of disputes in cases involving business and commercial disputes needs to be improved in order to enhance the fairness of process for business and commercial litigants and to make New Jersey a more attractive place for businesses to locate and expand; and

     b. Steps should be taken which will improve quality and predictability in business and commercial litigation accessible to litigants throughout the State of New Jersey, with due regard for considerations of efficient allocation of judicial resources; and

     c.  Business Court should be created in order to afford accessible and efficient access throughout the State of New  Jersey  and  with appropriate consideration of the efficient allocation of judicial resources; and

     d.  The appointment of persons to sit as judges of the Business Court should take into account the knowledge of the law governing business and commerce and experience in business and commercial matters.

 

     2. A Business Court is hereby established as a court of limited jurisdiction pursuant to Article VI, Section 1, paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution.

 

     3.  The Business Court shall be a court of record and shall have a seal.

 

     4.  The  Business  Court shall have jurisdiction with respect to:

     a.  business and commercial disputes involving contracts; the Uniform Commercial Code; banking; insurance; commodities; securities; corporations; non-profit corporations; partnerships; limited liability entities and associations; business trusts; competition among businesses; business reorganizations; dispositions of businesses; business combinations; shareholder, partner and member disputes; intellectual property matters; the termination of services to a business or an agreement not to compete; employment agreements with an executive officer or manager; and other commercial disputes as provided by the Rules of the Supreme Court; and

     b.  private actions authorized under federal law which may be heard in State court arising under federal law pursuant to which a federal agency regulates securities, commodities, energy, foods, drugs, telecommunication or transportation, or other mercantile matters; and

     c. business and commercial disputes where the parties to a contract have agreed in writing that the Business Court shall have jurisdiction; and

     d.  actions cognizable in the Superior Court which raise issues as to which judicial expertise in matters involving business and commerce is desirable, which are not within the jurisdiction of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court, and which have been transferred to the Business Court pursuant to the Rules of the Supreme Court; and

     e.  any other matters as may be provided by statute; and

     f.  the exercise of any powers that may be necessary to effectuate its decisions, judgments, and orders.

     The Business Court shall not have jurisdiction over matters involving primarily consumer claims.  As used in this act: "consumer claims" means actions concerning the leasing, licensing or purchasing of real or personal property, the obtaining of credit or the contracting for services for cash or on credit if the property, credit, or services are obtained for personal, family, or household purposes.  "Consumer claims" may include actions pursuant to the provisions of  Title 56 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     5.  a.  The Business Court, in all causes within its jurisdiction, and subject to law, may grant legal and equitable relief so that all matters in controversy between the parties may be completely determined.

     b. Judgments of the Business Court may be appealed to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court pursuant to Rules of the Supreme Court.

 

     6.  a.  The filing fee for commencement of proceedings in the Business Court shall be the same as proceedings in the Superior Court,  Law Division.

     b.  Additional fees and the reduction or waiver of fees for particular classes of cases shall be established by the Rules of the Supreme Court.

     c.  No proceeding shall be heard by the Business Court unless the fees are paid or waived.

     d.  All fees shall be payable to the clerk of the Business Court for the use of the State, and shall not be refundable except as specifically provided by the Rules  of the Supreme Court.

     e.  Practice and procedure in the Business Court shall be as provided by the Rules of the Supreme Court.

     f.  Decisions of the Business Court shall be published in the manner directed by the Supreme Court.


     7.  a.  The Business Court shall maintain permanent locations in Trenton and Newark and may hold sessions at other locations throughout the State.

     b.  The State shall provide courtrooms, chambers, and offices for the Business Court at the required permanent locations in Trenton and Newark and shall arrange for courtrooms, chambers, and offices or other appropriate facilities at other locations throughout the State.

 

     8.  a.  The Governor shall nominate and appoint, with the advice and consent of the Senate, the judges of the Business Court.

     b.  All appointments to such judgeships shall be made in such manner that the appointees shall be, as nearly as possible, in equal members, members of different political parties so as to constitute the Business Court bipartisan in character.

     The words "political parties" mean such political parties as shall have cast the largest and next to the largest number of votes, respectively, for members of the General Assembly at the last preceding general election held for the election of all the members of the General Assembly prior to the making of any such appointments.

 

     9.  a.  The Business Court shall consist of no less than six, nor more than 12 judges, each of whom shall exercise the powers of the court, subject to the Rules of the Supreme Court.

     b.  The judges of the Business Court shall have been admitted to the practice of law in the State for at least 10 years prior to appointment and shall be chosen for their special qualifications, knowledge, and experience in matters of business and commerce.

 

     10.  a.  The judges of the Business Court shall hold their offices for initial terms of seven years and until their successors are appointed and qualified, and upon reappointment shall hold their offices during good behavior.

     b.  The judges of the Business Court shall be retired upon attaining the age of 70 years, upon the same terms and conditions as judges of the Superior Court, and shall have the same pension rights and other benefits as judges of the Superior Court.

 

     11.  a.  Each judge of the Business Court shall receive annual compensation and other benefits equal to that of a judge of the Superior Court and which shall not be diminished during the term of appointment.

     b.  The judges of the Business Court shall not engage in the practice of law or other gainful pursuit nor shall they hold other office or position of profit under this State, any other State or the United States.


     12.  a.  The judges of the Business Court shall be subject to impeachment, and upon impeachment shall not exercise judicial office until acquitted.  The judges of the Business Court shall also be subject to removal from office by the Supreme Court for the causes and in the manner as is provided by law for the removal of judges of the Superior Court.

     b.  Whenever the Supreme Court certifies to the Governor that a judge of the Business Court appears to be substantially unable to perform the duties of office, the Governor shall appoint a commission of three persons to inquire into the circumstances. Upon the recommendation of the commission, the Governor may retire the judge from office, on pension, as may be provided by law.

 

     13.  The Chief Justice shall assign one of the judges of the Business Court to be the presiding judge of the Business Court.  The presiding judge shall, subject to the supervision of the Chief Justice and the Administrative Director of the Courts, be responsible for the administration of the Business Court.

 

     14.  The presiding judge shall submit a report to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court annually.  The report shall be published as part of the Annual Report of the Administrative Director of the Courts.  The report shall contain information and statistics for the previous fiscal year concerning the operation of the Business Court. The report may also contain recommendations by the presiding judge regarding the clarification or revision of legislation, rules, and regulations relating to business and commerce, or the practice and procedure in the Business Court.

 

     15.  The Chief Justice may assign judges of the Business Court to the Superior Court or to any other court as the need appears, and any judge so assigned shall exercise all of the powers of a judge of that court.

 

     16.  The Supreme Court shall appoint to serve at its pleasure a Clerk and a Deputy Clerk of the Business Court, neither of whom shall be subject to the provisions of Title 11A, Civil Service, of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     17.  This act shall take effect on the 180th day after the date of enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill establishes a Business Court as a court of limited jurisdiction very similar to the current Tax Court.  The Business Court would have jurisdiction with respect to business and commercial disputes involving contracts; the Uniform Commercial Code; banking; insurance; commodities; securities; corporations; non-profit corporations; partnerships; limited liability entities and associations; business trusts; competition among businesses; business reorganizations; dispositions of businesses; business combinations; shareholder, partner and member disputes; intellectual property matters; the termination of services to a business or an agreement not to compete; employment agreements with an executive officer or manager; and other commercial disputes as provided by the court rules.  The Business Court would also hear certain private actions authorized under federal law which may be heard in State court pursuant to which a federal agency regulates certain matters.  The bill sets forth certain other instances such as business and commercial disputes where the parties to a contract have agreed in writing that the Business Court shall have jurisdiction.

     The Governor would nominate and appoint, with the advice and consent of the Senate, the judges of the Business Court.

     Judges of the Business Court would hold their offices for initial terms of seven years and until their successors are appointed and qualified, and upon reappointment would hold their offices during good behavior.

     The judges of the Business Court would be required to retire at the  age of 70 years, upon the same terms and conditions as judges of the Superior Court, and would have the same pension rights and other benefits as judges of the Superior Court.  Each judge of the Business Court would receive annual compensation and other benefits equal to that of a judge of the Superior Court.

     The judges of the Business Court would be subject to impeachment.  The judges of the Business Court would also be subject to removal from office by the Supreme Court as is provided by law for the removal of judges of the Superior Court.

     The Chief Justice would be required to assign one of the judges of the Business Court to be the presiding judge of the Business Court.  The presiding judge would, subject to the supervision of the Chief Justice and the Administrative Director of the Courts, be responsible for the administration of the Business Court.