September 8, 2014
Proposed Preamble to the Commercial Division
Rules Regarding Sanctions
The Supreme Court Committee reviewed the Office of Court Administration (“OCA”) proposal recommended by the Commercial Division Advisory Council regarding the adoption of a preamble to the Commercial Division Rules.
By majority vote, the members of the Supreme Court Committee voted against the adoption of a preamble to the Commercial Division Rules regarding the sanctions that may be imposed against litigants or counsel who engage in dilatory tactics, following a presentation by members of the Commercial Division Advisory Council.
A majority of members deemed the proposed preamble unnecessary, as the preamble itself states that its intent is not to alter the scope of sanctions available, and the judges in the Commercial Division already are aware of those sanctions. Others opposed the language in the preamble that could be interpreted as encouraging sanctions motions, which can result in costly motion practice and delay. Further, although the preamble is directed at litigants and counsel, some feared it could be interpreted as a tacit directive to judges to impose sanctions more often.
A minority of members supported the proposed preamble based on the perspective that New York State courts in general rarely award sanctions in cases of overt delay by litigants or counsel, contributing to a culture permissive of dilatory tactics.
While many agreed that litigants and attorneys should adhere to litigation deadlines and court schedules, members were unpersuaded that the proposed preamble would be effective in addressing an issue of this magnitude. Accordingly, the Committee does not support the adoption of the proposed preamble.