On October 6 and October 12, 2016, the Administrative Board of the Courts of New York (the Administrative Board) proposed amendments to the New York Commercial Division Rules aimed at streamlining litigation in the Commercial Division of New York State Supreme Court.
The Administrative Board proposed amending Rule 6 to expressly grant judges the discretion to require parties to use hyperlinks in electronically filed documents. A hyperlink is an electronic functionality that permits a reader to click on and be immediately directed to a cited authority. The proposed rule limits hyperlinks to (1) other portions of the same electronically filed document; (2) documents previously electronically filed with the court; (3) government websites; and (4) statutes, rules, regulations, and other court decisions. Optional hyperlinking is already permitted and encouraged in the local rules of the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits, as well as certain district courts.
The Administrative Board also proposed a new rule, Rule 11-h, which sets forth the standard that parties must meet in order to file court records under seal. Proposed Rule 11-h expands on the existing language of Rule 216.1 of the Uniform Civil Rules, which states that "a court shall not enter an order in any action or proceeding sealing the court records . . . except upon a written finding of good cause." Notably, proposed Rule 11-h defines "good cause" to "include the protection of proprietary or commercially sensitive information, including without limitation, (i) trade secrets, (ii) current or future business strategies, or (iii) other information that, if disclosed, is likely to cause economic injury or would otherwise be detrimental to the business of a party or third-party."
If approved by the Administrative Board and enacted, the rules would place the Commercial Division in line with federal courts, many of which encourage hyperlinking and require that companies' sensitive and competitive information be filed under seal.