Harried litigators scrambling to file papers in New York’s Commercial Division soon will have one more task to add to their pre-filing checklist: electronic bookmarking. Starting next month, each electronically-submitted memorandum of law and, in some instances, affidavits and affirmations, will be required to include bookmarks to assist the court and adversaries in navigating those frequently dense and lengthy documents.

Pursuant to an Administrative Order dated October 29, 2015, Rule 6 of the Rules of Practice for the Commercial Division has been amended effective December 1, 2015 to impose this requirement. A bookmark is an electronic functionality built into a PDF document. It provides a listing of the document’s contents, typically displayed alongside the document as viewed on a computer screen, and a means of navigating efficiently from section to section within the document and any attached exhibits.

Rule 6, titled “Form of Papers,” previously addressed routine formatting issues affecting documents filed with the court, including margins (one-inch minimum), font size (no smaller than 12-point) and spacing (double). It also required that papers comply with rules addressing frivolous litigation conduct. As amended, the rule now also provides:

Each electronically-submitted memorandum of law, and where appropriate, affidavit and affirmation shall include bookmarks providing a listing of the document’s contents and facilitating easy navigation by the reader within the document.

The rule change was proposed by the Commercial Division Advisory Council last summer. The Advisory Council studied the matter and concluded that bookmarking is “undoubtedly helpful to judges, clerks and litigants[.]” The Advisory Council recommended the amendment, maintaining that bookmarking is an efficient and time-saving mechanism that helps judges, law clerks and litigants more efficiently review documents, prepare bench memoranda and decisions, and respond to pleadings and other documents.

Significantly, the Advisory Committee also considered recommending the required use of hyperlinks in e-filed documents. On balance, the Advisory Council concluded that it was premature to do so. Hyperlinks are an electronic functionality that, when built into a memorandum of law or similar document, allows the reader to click onto a cited authority and gain immediate access to that authority. The Advisory Council found that hyperlinking, although obviously helpful to judges, clerks and litigants, can be “time-consuming and expensive for litigants[.]” The issue remains under review.

The Advisory Council's recommendation was outlined in a memorandum dated June 15, 2015, which the Office of Court Administration released for public comment on July 16, 2015.