COURT OF CHANCERY AMENDS ITS RULES REGARDING CONFIDENTIAL FILINGS AND DISCOVERY
The Court of Chancery amended its Rules, effective January 1, 2013, to improve public access to filings in cases before the Court. The amendment updates the Court's existing rule governing the filing of documents under seal. To ensure that public access to court filings is only restricted when justified, the new Rule 5.1 provides a definition of "good cause" that requires that only documents that contain sensitive, confidential information will qualify for sealing. By this means, the new Rule 5.1 better protects the public's right of access, while still enabling parties to restrict public access to truly sensitive information, such as trade secrets, personal information such as social security numbers or other identifying information, or competitively sensitive pricing information. Rule 5.1 is a product of extensive internal discussion, valuable assistance from the Court's Rules Committee and feedback from members of the press. An explanatory memorandum and the order adopting the rule are available at /rules/index.aspx.
Also on January 1 of this year, Rules 26, 30, 34 and 45 were updated to account for modern discovery demands to bring the Court's rules in line with current practice. The amendments refer to discovery of "electronically stored information" ("ESI") in addition to "documents" and "tangible things," and explain how parties should respond to requests for ESI. These changes are consistent with similar amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 26(c) also was revised to make clear that an out-of-state non-party from whom discovery is sought may move for a protective order in this state. The Court also expanded its Guidelines for Practitioners, originally released in January 2012, to include guidelines regarding discovery.
In an effort to educate members of the Bar in advance of the Rule changes and discovery guidelines, the Court held a free continuing legal education seminar on December 7, 2012. The seminar was a huge success, with close to 160 attorneys attending.
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