The Delaware Court of Chancery, and the members of its bench, have been sued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware over the relatively new arbitration procedures that allow for selected lawsuits involving at least $1 million to be filed under seal, with the consent of all parties, and provide for a member of the Court to conduct a final hearing on the merits within 90 days of the suit being filed. Here is an overview of the expedited procedures that we previously highlighted on this blog. Here is a local story summarizing the suit. Here is a story about the new suit by Tom Hals at Thomson Reuters.Court of Chancery Seal

The actual complaint is available here.

This might be characterized as a “man bites dog” type of story. One aspect of this unusual development is that it brings more exposure to a procedure that should be very attractive to businesses that want to settle major disputes quickly with a decision by a qualified neutral . I hope, however, that the suit challenging the procedure is dismissed.

Loyal readers: Please let me know if you are aware of any other court in the country, or the world, which has established rules that provide a hearing on the merits by a jurist on a nationally respected court, within 90 days of a suit being filed?

This provides another opportunity to present highlights of the following procedures that are now being challenged:

  • As a prerequisite for cases seeking money damages, the amount in controversy must exceed one million dollars.
  • The arbitrator will be a permanent sitting member of the Court.
  • A preliminary conference will be scheduled within 10 days of the commencement of the case to address procedural and substantive aspects of the case.
  • The statutory authority for the parties to consent to this procedure is 10 Del. C. Section 349.
  • The arbitration hearing will generally “occur no later than 90 days following receipt of the petition”. See Del. Ch. Ct. R. 97(c).
  • The arbitration proceedings will be confidential.
  • Discovery and motion practice are expected to be limited.
  • Appeals will be directly to the Delaware Supreme Court
  • Filing and hearing fees are as follows: $12,000 for filing the petition, and $6,000 for each day of arbitration (to be shared by the parties).

    N.B.: The PLI Securities Law Practice Center selected this post for its weekly “Top 5 Corporate & Securites Blog Posts”, as described here .

    Supplements: A local blogger provides his perspective here. Professor Steven Davidoff provides scholarly and insightful analysis of this case and the underlying arbitration that prompted it here, and Prof. Brian J.M. Quinn provides learned commentary on this lawsuit here as well as the pending arbitration giving rise to this suit here.