BUSINESS COURT DIVISION
The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has adopted a process for efficiently managing and resolving litigation involving commercial issues and disputes between businesses that includes the establishment of a Business Court Division. The Business Court Division is governed by the rules set forth in West Virginia Trial Court Rule 29.
The division consists of up to seven (7) active or senior status circuit court judges who shall be appointed by the Chief Justice, with the approval of the Supreme Court of Appeals. Each appointment is for a term of seven (7) years. The Chief Justice designates a judge of the division every three years to serve as its chair to preside over the activities of the division and to report to the Supreme Court of Appeals. There is no prohibition against serving successive terms, either as judge or as chair of the division.
The West Virginia Business Court Division Trial Court Rule 29.04 specifically defines business litigation as that in which:
(1) the principal claim or claims involve matters of significance to the transactions, operations, or governance between business entities; and
(2) the dispute presents commercial and/or technology issues in which specialized treatment is likely to improve the expectation of a fair and reasonable resolution of the controversy because of the need for specialized knowledge or expertise in the subject matter or familiarity with some specific law or legal principles that may be applicable; and
(3) the principal claim or claims do not involve: consumer litigation, such as products liability, personal injury, wrongful death, consumer class actions, actions arising under the West Virginia Consumer Credit Act and consumer insurance coverage disputes; non-commercial insurance disputes relating to bad faith, or disputes in which an individual may be covered under a commercial policy, but is involved in the dispute in an individual capacity; employee suits; consumer environmental actions; consumer malpractice actions; consumer and residential real estate, such as landlord-tenant disputes; domestic relations; criminal cases; eminent domain or condemnation; and administrative disputes with government organizations and regulatory agencies, provided, however, that complex tax appeals are eligible to be referred to the Business Court Division.
Business Litigation that is transferred to the division by the Chief Justice is assigned a presiding and resolution judge by the chair of the division. The case remains in the county of origin, but the presiding judge may conduct hearings and trials in any circuit courtroom within the assignment region.