By Zhen Liu
New Jersey, being part of the greater New York City area, is one of the most competitive business environments in the world. To succeed here, a business needs every possible advantage.
The New Jersey Supreme Court established the Complex Business Litigation Program (CBLP) to better serve the litigation needs of New Jersey businesses by resolving complex business, commercial and construction cases in an expedited manner. Cases in the CBLP are usually about business or commercial transactions or construction projects that have complex factual or legal issues, a large number of parties involved, implications for business beyond the decision in the particular case and a probable significant interpretation of a business or commercial statute.
Examples of the types of cases suitable for the program include non-consumer Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) transactions, intellectual property disputes, contract disputes, business torts and unfair competition disputes.
How Does The Program Work?
A case is automatically assigned to the CBLP if the amount in dispute is at least $200,000 and the litigants self-designate the case as complex commercial or complex construction. For a case not automatically assigned to the program, litigants can file an application requesting inclusion where the claim involves complex business-related issues and/or the amount is less than $200,000. Likewise, an application can be made to exclude a case from the program. The CBLP judge will then decide whether the complex nature of the action or the threshold damages claim amount has been established. The case will then be included or removed from the CBLP.
What Types Of Cases Are Not Appropriate For The Program?
Expressly excluded from CBLP are construction and professional payment and billing claims, change order claims, wrongful termination, quantum meruit, and construction lien or mechanics lien claims, unless such claims are part of a complex construction claim.
The Program also generally does not include matters that are handled by General Equity Court, such as corporate governance disputes, dissolution, shareholder derivative suits, receiverships, or matters involving consumers, labor organizations, personal injury, or condemnation, or cases in which the government is a party.
Benefits Of The CBLP Program.
Because each case within the CBLP program is individually managed by the designated judge in order to provide for better case management and efficiencies, this program offers great advantages to litigants and practitioners engaged in complex commercial and construction litigation. Complex business and construction cases will now be heard by specially trained judges with commercial backgrounds or who have specialized commercial expertise who will be familiar with the specific issues raised. Litigants will also receive the benefit of a trained jurist managing their case from beginning to end, resulting in a streamlined process, greater oversight and reduced fees and costs.
In addition, designated judges are required to write 2 written opinions annually on CBLP matters in order to develop a body of case law specific to complex commercial and construction cases. This helps tremendously for litigants and practitioners to get familiarized with the program and the cases law in New Jersey, as it continues to develop. Those opinions are available for review on the Judiciary’s Business Opinions webpage.
The New Jersey Courts have taken a positive step forward in achieving efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the business litigation practice. It would benefit litigants and practitioners to consider participation in this Program before starting a complex business, commercial or construction case.
- Rules of Court:
http://www.njcourts.gov/attorneys/rules.html (CBLP Rules 4:102 through 4:105);
- CBLP Guidelines, Model Forms and Orders:
Staff Writer Zhen Liu is a recent graduate from Seton Hall Law School, where she was a member of the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association. She specializes in Family Law and serves as research assistant to associate reporters of The American Law Institute.