New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

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Letter to the Editor from Stuart A. Hoberman in Response to Hon. Martin Haines Editorial on Business Court Legislation

Ronald J. Fleury

Editor, New Jersey Law Journal

Dear Mr. Fleury:

This correspondence is a response to the September 5, 2006 column of Hon. Martin L. Haines' entitled "Business Court Is A Misguided Concept."

First, the legislation at issue, Assembly Bill 3544 (Diegnan) which creates a Commercial and Technology Part in the Law Division of the Superior Court, has passed the General Assembly unanimously and now awaits consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The NJSBA has been proud to join the business community made up of the Association of Corporate Counsel, the Association for Corporate Growth-NJ, National Federation of Independent Businesses-NJ, the NJ Bankers Association, the NJ Business and Industry Association, the NJ Cable Telecommunications Association; the NJ Chemistry Council, the NJ Corporate Counsel Association, the NJ Petroleum Council, the NJ Retail Merchants Association, the NJ Society of CPAs, and the NJ State Chamber of Commerce in advancing this important bill.

One of the principal reasons for our advocacy of this legislation is that we believe its enactment will improve the economic climate in New Jersey. Moreover, the creation of a Commercial and Technology Part would also enable the development of a cadre of judges with experience in handling not just complex litigation, but the wide range of commercial cases filed annually. Such action is necessary to expedite review of these matters and establish greater predictability in decisions.

This legislation will not provide preferential treatment for New Jersey businesses to anymore "dominate" the New Jersey judicial system, than they are allowed to dominate the judicial systems of jurisdictions such as New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. These states have all succeeded in providing specialized treatment for business litigants which has resulted in a speedier, more predictable case administration and jurisprudence than prior to the adoption of such efforts.

The proposed Commercial and Technology Part is consistent with similar specialized treatment that has been established by the Judiciary and the Legislature in the past. In 1977, there was a call for a Tax Court to handle tax related cases, and the Legislature created a new court. In 1983, there was a call for the creation of a Family Part within the Chancery Division to handle family cases. Since that time the Family Part has been expanded to handle a myriad of issues. We already had the Criminal Part covering all criminal matters. In 1983, the Chief Justice subdivided the Civil Part creating a Special Civil Part to handle smaller claims. In 1994, a complex commercial subtrack was created to handle complex commercial cases. In 1999, a Mass Torts program was created by the Judiciary to effectively address class action lawsuits and this was recently expanded from one to several counties. In 2000, as "best practices" was implemented special handling of complex cases was provided. In 2002, a drug court was created by the Judiciary, and in 2004 it was expanded statewide. In 2004, complex commercial cases in the Law Division were provided with specialized treatment by Chancery judges if litigants stipulated to certain restrictions such as bench trials.

Now, in late July 2005, there was an announcement of a "Lemon Law Pilot Program" to provide specialized treatment for "Lemon Law" cases.

Specialized treatment is as much a part of the New Jersey judicial landscape as it is in any other state court system. The only problem is that there is no such treatment offered for "commercial matters" only complex commercial matters. This legislation fills the void that presently exists. This is a win-win situation not only for all New Jersey clients, and lawyers but for the judiciary and individual judges as well. We hope we can count on your support, and that of all members of the bar in this important endeavor.

Very truly yours,

Stuart A. Hoberman