Massachusetts Business Litigation Session Pilot Project

The Business Litigation Session (BLS) Pilot Project was developed as a joint effort of the BLS judges and the BLS Advisory Committee, to address the increasing burden and cost of civil pretrial discovery, particularly electronic discovery. The project was influenced by the ACTL Task Force and IAALS Final Report, and incorporated several of the proposed principles, including (1) limiting discovery proportionally to the magnitude of the claims actually at issue; (2) staging discovery where possible; (3) requiring all parties to produce "all reasonably available non-privileged, non-work product documents and things that may be used to support the party's claims, counterclaims or defenses;" and (4) requiring parties to confer early and often and to make periodic reports to the court, especially in complex cases.

The pilot project was implemented on a voluntary basis in December 2009, effective January 4, 2010, for all new cases in Suffolk Superior Court’s BLS, and all cases that have not previously had an initial Rule 16 case management conference. The pilot project ran for an initial one year period and was extended by Superior Court Chief Justice Barbara Rouse for a second calendar year, ending in December 2011.

The Suffolk Superior Court Business Litigation Session conducted a 10-question “Pilot Project Evaluation” survey in mid-2011. Because of a low rate of response, the court conducted a revised 10-question survey, administered electronically via Survey Monkey, in the fall of 2012. The Court has published a Final Report on the 2012 Attorney Survey. The survey results are positive. Despite the program’s voluntary nature, few respondents opted out when they had eligible cases.  In addition, the pilot program fared well across nearly all key indicators in comparison to both BLS and non-BLS cases.

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