In 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court established the Complex Business Litigation Program (CBLP). Much like the Commercial Division in New York courts, the CBLP is designed to resolve complex business, commercial, and construction cases in an expedited manner. Restricted to cases where the amount in controversy is at least $200,000, the CBLP uses different discovery rules than the regular New Jersey civil courts in order to move complex cases along in a more efficient manner.
What Types of Cases Are Handled By the CBLP?
Unlike the Commercial Division in New York, the CBLP has a more limited jurisdiction. This is because New Jersey continues to maintain a distinction between Law Division and Chancery Division, something not present in New York courts.
So, what types of cases does the Complex Business Litigation Program hear? According to the CBLP Case Management Guidelines, representative matters would include:
- Asset purchases and sale agreements
- Business licensing matters
- Business torts
- Claims related to purchases and sales of stock, assets or liabilities
- Director and officer and director liability and indemnification claims
- Franchise disputes
- Intellectual property matters
- Mergers and acquisitions disputes
- Non-consumer business transactions
- Non-consumer loans
- RICO actions
- Security interests in commercial personal property
- State securities law matters
- Unfair competition claims
- Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) matters outside of consumer matters
The Role of the Chancery Division
Chancery Division, on the other hand, retains jurisdiction over internal disputes over:
- Business restructuring
- Corporate governance
- Dissolution or liquidation rights
- Non-compete, trade secret or restrictive covenant litigation filed to protect business interests Shareholder derivative suits
Generally, if the dispute is between businesses or involves the relationship of multiple businesses it will belong in the CBLP. If the matter is related to corporate governance, it will belong in the Chancery Division.
Please also note that the CBLP is designed to handle commercial litigation. Consumer claims, personal injury claims, landlord-tenant actions, workplace discrimination claims, negligence claims, and employment matters do not fall within the jurisdiction of the CBLP.
The Discovery Process in the CBLP
The discovery rules in the CBLP are slightly different from those in the Law Division. These new discovery rules are designed to prohibit abusive discovery while still encouraging parties to make fulsome discovery responses.
Parties are limited to 10 depositions each and notably, where an organization designates multiple organizational representatives to testify, every seven-hour period of those depositions counts as its own deposition. This is in stark contrast to the federal rules where an organization deposition counts as one deposition, no matter the number of deponents or how long each deposition runs. Parties are also limited to 15 interrogatories, including sub-parts.
The discovery rules are also quite detailed with regard to electronically stored information (ESI). These rules include additional requirements with regard to objections made in response to discovery requests, additional remedies related to the failure to preserve electronically stored information and permitted use of categorical privilege logs.
Other Differences Between the CBLP and Law Division
In addition to the changes to the discovery process, there are other differences between practice in the CBLP and the rest of Law Division. Much like in federal court, and unlike other New Jersey courts, initial disclosures are required. The parties are also required to hold a meet-and-confer prior to the initial case management conference to prepare a discovery plan. A model scheduling order is provided in the CBLP Guidelines to guide the parties and the Court.
The CBLP is not part of the mandatory mediation program applied to other cases in Law Division. However, the judge in a CBLP matter has the discretion to order a settlement conference at their discretion and to order preparation of a settlement memorandum.
While the Complex Business Litigation Program is designed to streamline business litigation, litigation is still a stressful prospect. If you are considering filing a lawsuit related to your business or are facing an actual or potential lawsuit in the CBLP, please contact us for a free consultation at 848.202.9323 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that any legal question requires consideration of individual facts, and this article is not intended as legal advice to any individual or business and should not be relied upon as such.