On September 7, 2018, the Court of Chancery ordered that Rule 171(b) be amended to provide that the time for filing briefs is to be governed by newly-added Rule 79.2. Effective September 14, 2018, Rule 79.2 states:
Except for the initial pleadings governed by Rule 7(a) and notices of appeal, all electronic transmissions of documents (including, but not limited to, motions, briefs, appendices and discovery responses) in non-expedited cases must be filed and/or served by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time in order to be considered timely filed and/or served that day. All electronic transmissions of documents in expedited cases must be filed and/or served before midnight Eastern Time in order to be considered timely filed and/or served that day, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties and so ordered by the Court. For purposes of meeting the filing and/or service deadline set forth herein, expedited cases shall mean any case that is set for expedited treatment by an order of the Court.
The changes ensure that the Court of Chancery Rules conform to the new filing deadlines issued by the Delaware Supreme Court on July 18, 2018 as part of an initiative to improve work life balance for Delaware’s legal professionals. The Court of Chancery Rules can be found here.
On July 18, 2018, the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware issued an order adopting recommendations from a report on improving work life balance for Delaware legal professionals. Based on analysis regarding the negative impact of late filing deadlines on the Delaware legal community, the Supreme Court ordered state courts to amend their rules and/or electronic filing policies. Effective September 14, 2018, all electronic filings in non-expedited matters, except for initial pleadings and notices of appeal, must be completed by 5:00 p.m. Eastern. The deadlines for initial pleadings, notices of appeal, and electronic filings in expedited matters are unchanged and must be completed before midnight Eastern except for expedited matters in which the court orders or the parties agree to a different deadline.
The Supreme Court also ordered state trial courts to consider adopting policies disfavoring:
- Filing due dates on Monday or the day after a holiday in non-expedited matters.
- The issuance of non-expedited opinions addressing dispositive motions or post-trial relief after 4:00 p.m. as a general matter and after noon on Fridays.
- The scheduling of oral arguments and trials in August, except in expedited matters or where there is an important reason for proceeding at that time.
The Trial Courts are to consider the remaining recommendations in the report and to adopt practices to improve both the quality of professional practice and the quality of life for Delaware legal professionals. The Trial Courts are to report on their considerations and progress by March 15, 2019.
On August 22, 2018, the Supreme Court amended Supreme Court Rule 10.2 to conform to the July 18 order. Effective September 14, 2018, Rule 10.2(6)(a) is stricken and replaced with:
Except for notices of appeal, all electronic filings in non-expedited cases must be completed by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time in order to be considered timely filed that day. All notices of appeal and electronic filings in expedited cases must be completed before midnight Eastern Time in order to be considered timely filed that day.
The report supporting the change, Shaping Delaware’s Competitive Edge: A report to the Delaware Judiciary on Improving the Quality of Lawyering in Delaware, was prepared by several members of the Delaware Bar and includes contributions from Stephen B. Brauerman, a director and co-chair of Bayard’s litigation group.
A copy of the order, the order announcement, and the supporting report can be found here.