In my last article, we took a look at Delaware’s Court of Chancery and how its rich history is a part of the Delaware advantage. From that post we learned that the Court of Chancery hears matters of equity where no legal precedent is established, but what happens to business litigation that is purely legal in nature? Commercial cases at law are heard by the Delaware Superior Court, which recently created a new division to identify and streamline resolution for complex commercial matters. In an article entitled "The Delaware Superior Court Establishes A Complex Commercial Litigation Division To Address The Concerns Of The Business Litigant" in the June 2010 edition of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, Thomas E. Hanson, Jr. introduces the new Complex Commercial Litigation Division (CCLD) of the Delaware Superior Court. Below is an excerpt of the article that explains with further detail:
Due primarily to the high cost of electronic discovery, delay in reaching a final resolution and uncertainty as to the outcome, there is a consensus that civil litigation must be reformed. To address the concerns of business litigants, and to provide yet another option for the resolution of complex business disputes within Delaware's highly regarded court system, the Delaware Superior Court has established a Complex Commercial Litigation Division (CCLD) effective May 1, 2010. To promote prompt and efficient disposition of complex matters, the CCLD will include a special assignment of experienced judges, tight case management orders to move cases to conclusion, special e-discovery orders to limit expense and avoid disputes and protocols to control expert witness and fact discovery.
Not every business dispute is eligible for the CCLD. To qualify, a case must: (1) include a claim with an amount in controversy of at least one million dollars, (2) involve an exclusive choice of court agreement or a judgment resulting from an exclusive choice of court agreement or (3) be so designated by the president judge. Cases that meet one of these criteria can be brought in the CCLD - a forum that is focused on addressing what matters to parties who file and litigate complex commercial disputes.
The CCLD was designed to address two principal concerns of business litigants: (1) the need for predictable procedures to control the course of the proceedings and to bring such proceedings to a prompt conclusion and (2) the need for reasonable control over the cost of discovery, including e-discovery. The CCLD addresses these concerns by following three primary case administration principles.
First, each CCLD case will remain with the same judge from start to finish. Second, each CCLD case will be administered pursuant to uniform procedures, including the requirement of an early Rule 16 scheduling conference for counsel to meet and confer with the judge. At the Rule 16 conference, a case management order will be entered that covers all phases of the case, including the handling of discovery disputes and dispositive motions, early mandatory disclosures and the exchange of electronic discovery. Third, each CCLD case will be assigned firm pretrial and prompt trial dates that will be given priority as among the panel judges' other trial assignments.