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Delaware Courts Continue to Excel in Business Litigation with the Success of the Complex Commercial Litigation Division of the Superior Court

By: Joseph R. Slights III and Elizabeth A. Powers

Although still in its infancy, the Delaware Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division (“CCLD”) has already earned a reputation as a premier business court in keeping with the Delaware judiciary’s tradition of excellence in the resolution of corporate and business controversies. Regarded as an “accent” to the Court of Chancery, the CCLD offers businesses a forum dedicated to the resolution of commercial disputes where equitable jurisdiction is lacking. The CCLD’s collaborative and uniquely flexible approach to the management of complex commercial litigation is a model for what the modern business court should be. Not surprisingly, business litigants have embraced the CCLD, as evidenced by the wide variety of complex commercial disputes that have been filed and adjudicated in this forum. The CCLD continues Delaware’s status as the world’s most respected forum for adjudicating highly complex business disputes.

I. INTRODUCTION

Over its more than two-hundred-year history, Delaware’s Court of Chancery has emerged as the world’s most respected forum for adjudicating highly complex business disputes. But the Court of Chancery’s subject matter jurisdiction is limited; it is a court of equity. Business disputes arising from claims of contractual breach or tortious conduct, where money damages will remedy the wrong, do not sound in equity. Delaware’s general jurisdiction trial court, the Superior Court, is the proper forum to resolve these claims. The Superior Court, however, unlike the Court of Chancery, oversees a broad civil docket comprising, on average, more than four hundred cases per judge, and a felony criminal docket with thousands of cases moving through the system at any one time. Until recently, complex commercial cases in the Superior Court were placed in the civil pipeline along with every other civil case filed in the court. This dynamic frequently resulted in less-than-optimal judicial management of the court’s most demanding civil cases. Delaware business entities wanted and deserved better. The Delaware Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division (“CCLD”) was created in 2010 to complement Delaware’s Court of Chancery and to offer businesses a forum dedicated to the resolution of business disputes where wrongs could be righted with legal remedies. In just a few short years, the CCLD has earned a reputation as a premier business court in keeping with the Delaware judiciary’s tradition of excellence in the resolution of corporate and business controversies. Its collaborative and flexible approach to the management of complex litigation is a model for the modern business court. In this article, we will briefly discuss the national “business court” movement for the sake of context. We will then discuss the CCLD’s place within this movement, highlight its unique facilitative approach to judicial case management, and extol the benefits of this approach when addressing the court’s most challenging and resource-dependent cases.

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