On June 2, 2014, a new rule became effective in the Commercial Division of New York State Supreme Court that permits parties in Commercial Division cases (except for class actions) to consent to accelerated pre-trial procedures. The new streamlined procedures are designed to move a case to a trial-ready state within nine months.
THE COMMERCIAL DIVISION’S NEW “ROCKET DOCKET” RULE
As it enters its twentieth year of operation, New York’s Commercial Division continues to update its rules and procedures to make New York an attractive and efficient forum for litigating complex commercial matters. Rule 9 of the Rules of the Commercial Division, effective June 2, 2014, authorizes accelerated adjudication procedures in all Commercial Division actions other than class actions.1 To invoke Rule 9, the Court must receive written consent from the parties. Rule 9 expressly contemplates that advance consent to accelerated adjudication may be included as part of a written contract.
Parties that consent to Rule 9 agree that “all pre-trial proceedings, including all discovery, pre-trial motions and mandatory mediation, shall be completed and the parties shall be ready for trial within nine (9) months” from the date of filing of a Request for Judicial Intervention in an action.
To accelerate the litigation, parties that consent to Rule 9 irrevocably waive:
- objections to personal jurisdiction;
- objections based on the forum non conveniens doctrine;
- the right to a jury trial;
- the right to recover punitive or exemplary damages; and
- the right to any interlocutory appeal.
With regard to discovery, Rule 9 also imposes strict limits. Unless the parties agree otherwise, discovery shall consist of:
- no more than seven interrogatories;
- no more than five requests to admit;
- absent good cause, no more than seven depositions of seven hours per side; and
- document requests “limited to those relevant to a claim or defense in the action” and “restricted in terms of time frame, subject matter and persons or entities to which the requests pertain.”
For electronic discovery, unless the parties agree otherwise, Rule 9 requires:
- producing electronic documents in searchable format;
- narrowly tailoring the custodians whose electronic documents will be collected to those who reasonably may be expected to possess “evidence that is material to the dispute”; and
- denying discovery or requiring the requesting party to advance the reasonable cost of production, if the “costs and burdens of e-discovery are disproportionate” to the nature of the dispute, the amount in controversy, or the relevance of the materials requested.
Parties engaged in litigation in New York’s Commercial Division may find the expedited procedures available under Rule 9 to be attractive and choose to proceed under the new rule. In structuring commercial transactions, parties also might wish to consider accelerated adjudication in the Commercial Division under Rule 9 as an alternative to arbitration. As part of a written contract, the parties can consent in advance to accelerated adjudication for all disputes arising under the contract.