A “Large Complex Case List,” aimed at more efficiently managing cases where a minimum of $50 million is at issue, is to be formed in the Manhattan Supreme Court’s Commercial Division as a pilot program, according to a court administration order.
The program, set to begin Jan. 1, comes after the Commercial Division Advisory Council proposed the idea for a high-stakes case list earlier this year. The council has said that the case list will help make clear that “the London Commercial Court is not entitled to a monopoly on large lawsuits.”
In 2015, the U.K. court instituted its “Financial List,” a separate docket of financial cases worth at least 50 million pounds ($65.2 million). The Large Complex Case List is viewed by council members as a way to more ardently compete for high-stakes litigations while improving the operations and speed of an overtaxed state court system.
According to a report prepared by a council subcommittee, large “complex” cases would benefit from procedures and tools that facilitate a quicker resolution. Dedicated resources would include special referees with expertise in discovery such as that of federal court magistrate judges, backup settlement judges and special mediators, and technology that streamlines the exchange of documents and active case management.
The court administration order, signed by Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks on Oct. 23 and approved by the Administrative Board after public comment, states in part that Manhattan Commercial Division justices “may designate a case for the List, either sua sponte or upon application by a party, if it (i) addresses commercial claims for an amount no less than $50 million (exclusive of punitive damages, interest, costs, disbursements, and counsel fees); or (ii) addresses matters of sufficient complexity and importance to warrant such designation.”
It adds that “justices presiding over such cases may, in their discretion, apply procedures and make available to the parties such court resources as may be available (including but not limited to special referees with expertise in discovery, special mediators, settlement judges, interface options with extranets and electronic document depositories, and hyperlinked briefs) commensurate with the requirements of active case management of the largest and most complex matters in the Commercial Division.”
David Tennant, a Rochester-based Nixon Peabody partner and advisory council member, said Tuesday that “there is a possibility that it [the case list] will be expanded to other courts” in New York state, depending on the effectiveness of the pilot program.
He added that the program doesn’t have an end date, and that court administration will be evaluating the program and considering next steps.
“The advisory council will be interested in seeing how it plays out in the real world,” as well, he said. “There is a belief that there are a substantial number of cases that will meet the threshold.”
The council’s subcommittee report said the U.K. court’s financial list is “clearly designed by the U.K. courts to promote London as the premier jurisdiction for resolution of commercial disputes, both to benefit the English judiciary and bar and to enhance the attractiveness of London as a global financial center.”
It added, “We believe it is in the best interest of the Commercial Division, the New York judiciary and more broadly the New York business community to respond. We believe the Commercial Division can do so in a tailored, low-cost and low-risk way.”
Jeff Storey contributed reporting.