A 2005 Georgia statute that could force one side of litigation to pay the other side’s fees cannot be applied to a case filed before its passage, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The decision sidestepped questions about whether the “offer-of-judgment” rule of the 2005 tort legislation unconstitutionally impedes guarantees of access to courts or offends the state constitution because it targets only tort cases. Those questions could come up in cases over other parts of the legislation, known as SB 3, that trouble the plaintiffs bar most, including a $350,000 cap on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice suits.