On January 23, 2013, the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association met in Manhattan for a pair of panels exploring the future of commercial litigation in the State, with a significant focus on recently proposed reforms to the Commercial Division. (NYLJ, Pierson, Panel Suggest Ways to Execute Reforms to Commercial Division, January 24, 2013). The Commercial Division of the New York State Supreme Court handles complex, commercial/business cases throughout the State.

The genesis of this critical review dates back nearly a year ago when Chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann first convened a panel entitled “The Chief Judge’s Taskforce Report on Commercial Litigation in the 21st Century: From Ideas to Implementation,” which focused on the execution of key reforms to the Commercial Division.

The latest panel was moderated by former Chief Judge Judith Kaye, who also co-chaired the Chief Judge’s task force. Other distinguished panelists included presiding judges from the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and other notable practitioners in the private sector.

Panelists noted the modicum of success achieved by the implementation of the Commercial Division, but emphasized that further changes are still needed to ensure a high quality is maintained and to “attract major players with important cases.” As one panelist aptly noted, “[t]o be a great court, you gotta get great cases.”

To this end, Judge Kaye put forth an initiative that could be achieved by “court rule without new money, leaving aside the taskforce’s recommendation for more judges and more judicial support.” Recent proposed measures include raising the threshold to enter the Commercial Division from $150,000 to $500,000 or more, ensuring that cases are assigned to the Commercial Division as early as possible without motion practice, and a proposed rule that a party must ask to have a case assigned to the Commercial Division within 90 days (or be precluded from having such case assigned to the Commercial Division).

We will continue to provide further updates on this task force and other proposed reform measures to the Commercial Division.

Posted by Adam H. Koblenz