Over the years, the Court of Chancery has developed several rules of practice that are not written down as part of the formal Court of Chancery Rules. Some of these unwritten rules appear in the Court of Chancery's recently issued Guidelines to Help Lawyers Practicing in the Court of Chancery. Below are some additional rules of practice to keep in mind.
Motions to Amend. The Court prefers that you not object to a motion to amend the pleadings, unless the new matter is clearly barred by the statute of limitations. The better practice is to let the pleading be amended and later file a dispositive motion when appropriate.
Answering Complaints. An answer to a complaint should first state each paragraph of the complaint and then state the answer to that paragraph.
Responding to Document Requests. When responding to document requests, follow the same practice required when answering interrogatories. First state each specific request and then state the response to that specific request.
Responding to Interrogatories. When responding to each interrogatory, avoid general objections and state as precisely as possible the bases for any objection. If the answer is not yet known, answer as much as you can and supplement the answer when the information is available.
Service of Paper Copies. After an electronic filing has been accepted, deliver two paper copies of the filing to Chambers with a simple cover letter.
Scheduling Conferences. At every scheduling conference, be prepared to explain the merits of your client's case and the business reasons for litigating that case.
Expert Reports. Detailed expert reports are expected by the Court and should be admitted into evidence at trial.
Depositions at Trial. Be prepared to cite to and hand to the Court the relevant portions of depositions. Wholesale dumping in of depositions is not welcome.
Multi-Jurisdiction Litigation. When the litigation is going on in more than one jurisdiction, advise each court of the status of the litigation in every court involved. When a settlement is reached in representative litigation, advise each court of how you propose to submit that settlement for court approval.
Damage Claims. Never, ever ask for punitive damages. The Court of Chancery does not have jurisdiction to award punitive damages. There are statutes that permit the award of exemplary damages, such as for violation of the Trade Secrets Act (6 Del. C. § 2003).
Titling of Brief. Do not title a brief as Opening, Answering or Reply unless a briefing schedule is in place.
Entries of Appearance. An attorney can be added to a case by either entering their name under the Add a Party/Attorney feature in LexisNexis when filing a pleading which is responsive to or affecting the complaint or by filing a traditional Entry of Appearance. This is important to make yourself part of the service list in the case. (See Court of Chancery Rule 5(aa).
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