Task force releases report on N.Y.'s commercial division

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jun 26, 2012


ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - A task force on commercial litigation issued a report Tuesday recommending various reforms to enhance the state's business court.

The commercial division, launched in 1995, handles complicated commercial cases as part of New York's Supreme Court. The state's highest court is the Court of Appeals.

In recent years, the number and complexity of cases in the state's commercial division have grown dramatically, while numerous other states have created their own business courts.

Mindful of the urgency of these increased demands, New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman appointed a task force to ensure that the state maintains its position as the "preeminent financial and commercial center of the world."

The Task Force on Commercial Litigation in the 21st Century is led by co-chairs Judith S. Kaye, a former New York chief judge, and Martin Lipton, senior partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz. Its other members include 34 of the state's most prominent current and retired judges, business lawyers, commercial litigators and law professors.

The task force said it, along with various committees, worked on the 31-page report over the last six months.

Among its key recommendations, the task force endorsed Lippman's legislative proposal to establish a new class of court of claims judges, appointed by the governor and assigned to the commercial division

Doing so, the task force said, will help address the "extraordinary" volume of litigation, including lawsuits resulting from the financial crisis that began in 2008.

It also recommended measures to strengthen support given to the commercial division's justices, including additional law clerks and the creation of a panel of "special masters" drawn from New York's "vast number of seasoned commercial litigators" who are no longer in active practice but available to serve by appointment of the judge and with the parties' consent.

The task force, in its report, also recommended what it deemed as "procedural reforms" that will reduce delays and eliminate unnecessary costs in commercial litigation in the state.

In addition, to guide implementation of its recommendations and help fulfill "long-term strategic goals," it proposed that Lippman appoint a statewide advisory council on the commercial division.

"This task force was created to provide practical proposals that will have a positive and lasting impact on commercial litigation in New York. The quality, reliability and visibility of the commercial division are essential to assuring the vitality of our state in the 21st century," it said in a statement.

A full copy of the report can be found here.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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