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Commercial Division Considers Creating Large Complex Case List

A specialized list for blockbuster commercial cases in New York’s Commercial Division is under consideration.  If designated as a Large Complex Case on the “Large Complex Case List,” the case will be subject to enhanced case management procedures designed to efficiently handle the matter.  The proposal is subject to public comment.  The Administrative Board of the Courts has requested that comments be submitted by Tuesday, July 25, 2017.  If the proposal is adopted, the Large Complex Case List will be piloted in New York County.

The impetus for the List stems from the creation of a “Financial List” in 2015 in England and Wales.  The British “Financial List” is a specialized docket for large commercial cases that is designed to “further the provision of swift, efficient, specialist, and high quality financial dispute resolution.”  [1] 

The high-stakes cases may be designated on the New York Commercial Division’s “Large Complex Case List” by any party, subject to judicial review, or by the court if the amount of controversy exceeds $50 million, exclusive of punitive damages, interest, costs, disbursement, and counsel fees.  Even before a dispute is initiated, the parties may elect by contract to designate the Large Complex Case List as the exclusive forum for dispute resolution arising under the contract in which the $50 million monetary threshold is met.  The parties may also designate a case to the List post-suit provided that the $50 million monetary threshold is met.  The presiding justice may also, sua sponte or on a motion by a party, designate a case on the List notwithstanding the $50 million threshold if the justice believes that designation is appropriate to facilitate the enhanced speedy and just resolution of the matter.  The presiding justice may also de-designate a case, sua sponte or on a motion by a party, if it does not satisfy the monetary threshold.

The assignment process of Large Complex Cases among the justices is the same as ordinary cases (e.g., random through the wheel).  However, if a justice believes that the justice’s part is not equipped to handle an additional Large Complex Case at that time, the justice may decline the assignment.  The declination is subject to review by the Administrative Judge.  If the declination is accepted, the case will be reassigned at random to another Justice. 

The Administrative Board of the Courts describes the “List” as “essentially a special docket,” but designation of the case on the List brings with it many case management procedures designed to efficiently handle large complex commercial cases.  Justices assigned to such cases may appoint special referees who, at the discretion of the assigned justice, may assume a case management role equivalent of a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Courts.  The assigned justice may also appoint experienced mediators and dedicated “back-up” settlement judges with expertise in handling complex commercial cases.  The proposed List also aims to enhance the technology available to streamline the disposition of large commercial cases, by among other things, requiring hyperlinked briefs and electronic document depositories.  Cases designated to the List will also receive active case management designed to reduce delays.  For instance, the assigned justice may “encourag[e] parties to stipulate to perfect interlocutory appeals within 60 days.” 

We will continue to monitor developments as they occur.

[1] Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, Financial List: FAQ (Oct. 29, 2015), available at https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/publications/financial-list-faq/.