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Court of Chancery Amends Briefing Requirements and Letter Policy Effective August 1, 2017

By Sara E. Bussiere

The Court of Chancery recently adopted a substantive change to its policy concerning the submission of letters.  While the Court of Chancery previously allowed parties to request substantive relief by letter, effective August 1, 2017, letters may only be used to address logistical and scheduling issues.  All substantive requests for relief must be made by motion.  As set forth below, the Court also limited the length of non-dispositive motions in an effort to streamline the litigation process and manage the Court’s workload.

Effective August 1, 2017, Court of Chancery Rule 171(f), governing the length of briefs, will be amended as follows:

Court of Chancery Rule 171(f)(1), governing the type-volume limitation, will require the following word limits for the following brief submissions.

  • Dispositive motions [Rule 12 (defenses and objections), Rule 23 (class actions), Rule 23.1 (derivative actions by shareholders), and Rule 56 (summary judgment)]:
    • Opening/Answering Brief: 14,000
    • Reply Brief: 8,000
  • Other motions:
    • Opening/Answering Brief: 3,000
    • Reply Brief: 2,000
  • Letters: 1,000 words

In addition, Court of Chancery Rule 171(f)(2), which requires a certificate of compliance verifying compliance with Rule 171(f)(1), will no longer require the filing of a separate certificate.  Under the amended rule, each document submitted pursuant to Rule 171(f)(1) shall include in the signature block the phrase “Words: [# of words in the document].”  Pursuant to amended Rule 171(f)(2), “[u]se of that phrase constitutes a certification by the signatory of the document, whether counsel or an unrepresented party, that the document complies with the typeface requirement and the type-volume limitation.”

A copy of the Order amending Rule 171 (f) can be found here.

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