Suffolk Superior Court in Boston is home to an innovative session called the Business Litigation Session, commonly abbreviated as “BLS”. Brought about by the advocacy of administrative judges, civil litigators, and leaders in the business community, the BLS has served as a statewide forum for the resolution of complex commercial disputes since 2000.
Over the last fifteen years, the BLS has gained a reputation as an efficient forum to litigate complicated business issues such as intellectual property disputes, shareholder derivative claims, suits involving banks, financial advisers, and brokerage firms, claims for breach of fiduciary duty, insurance disputes, antitrust claims, and professional malpractice suits. Although typically referred to as “the” BLS session, there are actually two sessions that make up the BLS, and each one is staffed with two experienced Superior Court judges, as well as an assigned clerk and staff attorney.
In order to bring a case in the BLS, a plaintiff must file a special Civil Action Cover Sheet and request placement in the BLS. Parties can also seek to have a case transferred into the BLS from another court. One of the features that appeals to litigants on both sides of BLS cases is that the session’s caseload is smaller than average, which tends to lead to an expedited schedule and shorter turnaround time on the judges’ rulings. There are also special procedural rules of the BLS that aim to cut down on the costs and time of litigation. One is a voluntary pilot project that is focused on reducing the burden of pretrial discovery. Another seeks to modify the time-consuming practice of partially dispositive motions.
There are strategic considerations that a party must consider when deciding whether to bring an action, or transfer an action, into the BLS. It is also important for lawyers practicing in the BLS to be familiar with the different procedural orders and formal guidance that are special to that session. Fitch Law Partners LLP business ligation attorneys have successfully litigated complex commercial disputes in the BLS, including, most recently, a commercial lease dispute and a lawsuit brought by a hedge fund investor alleging, among other claims, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation, and breach of contract against the hedge fund.