Friday, April 11, 2014

Torts Today: N.J. Panel Urges Special Handling For Complex Commercial Litigation | New Jersey Law Journal

The New Jersey Supreme Court has released the Report of the Working Group on Business Litigation.  Although it rejects the option of a distinct division, like New York's, it does move toward specialization as Mary Gallagher explains in her report.  When I was a member of the editorial board of the late New Jersey Lawyer weekly we pressed for a commercial division without success.  The idea that judges are generalists is strongly rooted in the state's judiciary.  However the successful management of "mass tort" litigation by specially designated judges has earned New Jersey courts respect for their competence.  Much remains to be done.  Electronic filing for example, lags far behind the federal courts. - GWC

N.J. Panel Urges Special Handling For Complex Commercial Litigation | New Jersey Law Journal

by Mary Pat Gallagher // NJLJ
A New Jersey Supreme Court committee has rejected the recurring idea of setting up a specialized business court in the state but suggests other ways to improve the management of commercial litigation.
In a report released Thursday, the Working Group on Business Litigation recommends expanding a pilot program statewide and designating a business-savvy judge in each vicinage for complex commercial cases, which would have a $200,000 threshold.
The 13-member committee chaired by Bergen County Assignment Judge Peter Doyne was created last October to identify and assess the needs of the business community, review the judiciary’s current practices, and suggest ways to address legitimate concerns and streamline the process for handling complex commercial litigation.
Its work included reviewing the case management techniques used to file, track and resolve commercial litigation and to assess two long-running pilot programs.
The group suggest that one of them, which has been operating in Bergen and Essex counties since 1996, should cease being a “pilot” program and be expanded statewide.
 The assignment judge in both of those counties designates a jurist with a business or commercial background to handle all commercial matters from start to finish.
The working group recommends that each vicinage designate a business judge, who is either familiar with complex business issues or willing to develop that expertise.
A protocol should be created to “properly identify” what cases should be classified as complex commercial. Right now, that decision is left up to the lawyers who select a case type code when they file.
Court personnel, in consultation with the working group, should “redefine the complex commercial case type so that the Bar will be notified appropriately of the importance of this case type coding on the Civil Case Information statement,” the working group says.

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