Business disputes are part of the price of doing business. Even as a small business, you have so many connections to vendors, suppliers, and customers. Most small businesses have other connections to accountants, marketers, and other businesses. Then there are internal relationships between the business and its employees. Finally there are potential disputes between owners that can also create problems. Often times these disputes can be resolved through a mutual agreement but when they cannot be settled the Michigan Circuit Courts are called upon to resolve these issues.
Recently Michigan enacted a new law that should help the courts’ ability to quickly and efficiently resolve these disputes as they arise. Born from a pilot program that had ties to the Kent County Circuit Court, beginning at the first of the year every court with more than 3 judges will have to develop a specialized business docket.
Previously, judges were asked to be generalists. Some judges would have dockets that encompassed criminal cases, family law cases and business law cases. These types of dockets prevented judges from taking the time and gaining the expertise necessary to accurately rule in a timely matter on business cases. This new law will allow one judge to handle all of the court’s business cases.
This new specialized dockets will help Michigan businesses. To begin with business litigation is complicated and specialized. There are unique laws and precedence set and without experience or time to research and analyze a judge’s opinions can be less accurate on the law. This new specialized docket will ensure that the judge presiding over these business cases will not only have experience with business law but will have the time to gather the right information before making a ruling.
The other benefit will be that experienced local business litigators will know local judges’ opinions on certain issues. Having this knowledge will lead to quicker settlements. If you have an attorney that knows that this judge generally rules a particular way on particular cases, that information can be used to find a quicker resolution to your dispute. That saves your business time and money.
There will be some issues with this new system that might creep up but they will get worked out fast enough. And while there will be some attorneys that are resistant to the change, overall this is a benefit to West Michigan small businesses. It is still important for entrepreneurs to take the appropriate steps to protect their businesses but this new specialized business docket should relieve some of the stress if a dispute does arise.
Source: “Specialized business dockets to spread statewide” by Nick Manes of MiBiz