CHARLESTON – State Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin is eager to see the new Business Court Division get started.
“In the past, there was a misunderstanding about what business court actually was,” Benjamin said Tuesday. “West Virginia was lagging behind in this area, but, legislators have helped immensely and North Carolina’s business court has been an outstanding help to us.”
Benjamin discussed West Virginia’s Business Court Division, which opens Oct. 10, at a meeting of the Judge John A. Field Jr. American Inn of Court in the Robert C. Byrd Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse.
West Virginia’s Business Court Division will be headquartered in Martinsburg, but the state is separated into seven regions where court can be held.
“In the Business Court Division, the judges will go to the cases—not the other way around,” Benjamin said. “The cases will be heard where they were filed.”
Benjamin said the Business Court Division will involve business-to-business litigation and not consumers.
“Commercial litigation is complex and unique,” he said. “The judges that will be involved with the business court are on the cutting edge on these matters and will be focused on discovery unique to commercial litigation.”
At the moment, the panel members of the Business Court Division include Berkeley Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes, chairman; Greenbrier Circuit Judge James J. Rowe; Hampshire Circuit Judge Donald H. Cookman; and Wayne Circuit Judge James H. Young Jr., whose term begins in January.
Benjamin said he expects there will be three more judges appointed to the panel. Each judge will serve a seven-year term.
“These judges are volunteers,” Benjamin said. “They’re not getting paid anything to be a part of the Business Court Division; they’re doing it because they want to be involved.”
Benjamin said the Business Court Division will abide by the same normal time frames as the other court divisions, but with one exception.
“The time standards for general civil cases will apply, but the presiding judge will do their best to conclude the business litigation within 10 months from the date the case management order was entered,” Benjamin said. “This is the primary selling point of the Business Court Division. It’s a good thing to try and move things along as fast as possible.”
The local American Inn of Court chapter’s president, Vivian H. Basdekis, said the business court is an exciting and significant addition to the court system.
The American Inns of Court is a volunteer legal organization devoted to improving professionalism, ethics, civility and legal skills.