Delaware Court of Chancery Issues Guidelines for Attorneys

The Delaware Court of Chancery has issued Guidelines to Help Lawyers Practicing before the Court. Chancery Court Guidelines.pdf This guidance may be particularly helpful to attorneys unfamiliar with the level of civility expected of the Delaware Bar. The guidelines also include advice on “best practice, which are informative even for seasoned practioners. Here are some excerpts from the new guidelines:

  • All cellphones and PDAs are strictly prohibited in the courtroom, even if silenced. Failure to comply with this rule may result in confiscation of the device and/or sanctions.
  • Plans for the use of technology during a hearing or trial should be made approximately one week before the proceeding.
  • Where Delaware attorneys are acting as local counsel, letters to the Court from lead counsel should not be forwarded to the Court under a cover letter saying, in substance, “Here is a letter from my co-counsel.”
  • Letters to the Court should be short. If a letter exceeds 5 pages, double-spaced, counsel should consider whether a motion is more appropriate. Submissions of up to 15 pages may be filed as speaking motions. Submissions longer than 15 pages should be submitted as motions with supporting briefs.
  • Parties should include in their standard interrogatories a request that the other party(ies) identify prospective trial witnesses. If a party fails to include such an interrogatory, the Court will not look favorably on complaints of unfairness when counsel is unable to depose all trial witnesses before the close of discovery.
  • Answers should repeat the allegations of the Complaint and then set forth the response below, mirroring the practice used in discovery responses.
  • The Court takes issue with parties (1) aggressively denying basic facts without a good faith basis to do so, and (2) reciting a laundry list of affirmative defenses without consideration of the applicability of each defense to the case.

A series of sample documents reflecting the Court’s recommended practices are also available from the Court’s website.

Delaware Court of Chancery Guidelines