North Carolina Business Court - Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a case assigned to the Business Court?

 For a brief overview of the designation procedure, click here.  For more information, see N.C. Gen. Stat. 7A-45.4 and Rule 2 of the General Rules of Practice and Procedure for the North Carolina Business Court.  All questions regarding notices of designation and assignment of cases should be directed to Thomas W. Estes ( 

Which judge will be assigned to preside over my case?

Once a case has been designated to the Business Court by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, the Chief Business Court Judge assigns the case to a Business Court Judge. Although geography does play a part in this decision, it is certainly not the only factor. Other considerations include the current case load of each judge, the area of law, and conflicts of interest.

How do I get a case out of the Business Court?

If a case is designated and does not meet the procedural or substantive requirements for a mandatory complex business case, any party may file an opposition to the Notice of Designation within thirty (30) days of service. The opposition should be filed, served on all interested parties, and sent via e-mail to Thomas W. Estes (  Any other party may respond to the opposition within fifteen (15) days of service.

The Chief Business Court Judge rules on all oppositions, and he may also determine ex mero motu that an action should not be designated a mandatory complex business case.  Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat.  7A-45.4(e), the Chief Judge's decision may be appealed in accordance with N.C. Gen. Stat.  7A-27(a).

What if a case meets the substantive requirements for mandatory complex business designation but a party fails to designate within the requisite period of time?

Rule 2.1 of the General Rules of Practice for the Superior and District Courts gives the Chief Justice discretion to designate any case an "exceptional" or "complex business" case. Discretionary complex business cases are assigned to a Business Court Judge by the Chief Justice.

To have your case considered for discretionary complex business designation, request recommendation from the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge in the county of venue via letter/motion. Conventions and practices regarding Rule 2.1 designation may vary by county.

If a case is designated as a mandatory or discretionary complex business case, are the parties required to change venue and try the case in Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte, or Winston-Salem?

No. The North Carolina Business Court is not a court of jurisdiction, but rather an administrative division of the General Court of Justice. While motions and pre-trial matters may be heard in the Business Court, all jury trials will be held in the county in which the case is venued. Non-jury trials may be held in the Business Court upon the consent of all parties.

Is use of the Business Court's electronic-filing system mandatory?

While the court cannot require a party to use the electronic filing system, it is strongly encouraged for convenience of both the parties and the court.

Do parties who use electronic filing still have to file hard copies of the pleadings with the Clerk of Court?

Yes. The Clerk of Court in the county of venue maintains the official file for all Business Court cases.  Briefs need not be filed with the Clerk of Court.

Do the parties who use electronic service still have to serve opposing counsel?

Yes. Although the court's electronic filing system automatically sends an e-mail notification each time a filing is made, it is best practice to continue to serve all documents pursuant to Rule 5 of the Rules of Civil Procedure unless and until the parties have a written stipulation regarding electronic service. Generally, the court addresses this issue as part of the case management process soon after the case is designated.

How should a party submit a proposed order to the court for a routine matter?

Proposed orders should be e-filed in rich text/Microsoft Word format along with the related motion.

  How should an attorney inform the Business Court of designated secure leave periods?

Designations of secure leave should be e-filed in each case in which an attorney is involved.