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February 1, 2021

New Changes to 29 Sections of the NYS Uniform Rules for Supreme and County Courts

NYS Chief Administrative Judge Larry Marks issued a sweeping administrative order, effective February 1, 2021, in which several rules, or variations thereof, of the Commercial Division have been adopted into the Uniform Rules for the Supreme Court and the County Court. The administrative order will affect the procedures and strategies of ongoing litigation and court practices throughout New York State. The following list highlights some of the significant changes to the uniform rules:

  • Failure of counsel to be familiar with the case or be fully prepared and authorized to discuss and resolve the issues scheduled to be in front of a court may be treated as a default and/or may be treated as a failure to appear.
  • Parties may request a separate judge to oversee a settlement conference.
  • Prior to a preliminary or compliance conference, counsel for all parties must discuss and make a good faith effort to reach agreement on potential resolution of the case, discovery issues, alternative dispute resolution, and voluntary exchanges of informal discovery.
  • Depositions are limited to seven hours per deponent.
  • The number of depositions to be taken by any party is limited to 10.
  • Noncompliance with a scheduling order may result in the imposition of an appropriate sanction against that party.
  • Discovery disputes now require counsel to consult with each other and contact the court for a conference before filing a discovery motion. Adjournments of conferences will only be granted upon a showing of good cause.
  • Motions shall be brought on by order to show cause only when there is genuine urgency (e.g., applications for provisional relief), a stay is required, or a statute mandates so proceeding.
  • Prior to trial, counsel shall confer in good faith to identify matters not in contention, resolve disputed questions without need for court intervention, and further discuss potential settlement of the case.
  • The court may direct counsel to consult in good faith to identify those aspects of their respective experts' anticipated testimony that are not in dispute.
  • Parties must identify in writing to the court the witnesses they intend to call, the order they will testify, and the estimated length of their testimony.
  • A party's own witness in a nonjury trial or evidentiary hearing may be required to submit an affidavit of their direct testimony prior to trial.

The clear theme of the changes to the uniform rules is to alleviate court congestion by requiring litigants to rely less on the intervention of the judiciary—particularly for discovery related issues—and to facilitate settlements and alternative dispute resolutions rather than dispositive motions and trials. 

Barclay Damon will continue to update you on additional changes to the Uniform Rules for the Supreme Court and the County Court and other rules of practice.

If you have any questions regarding this alert, please contact David Hutter, associate, at dhutter@barclaydamon.com, or another member of the firm’s Torts & Products Liability Defense Practice Area.

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