In late October 2022, Indiana’s Commercial Court Committee published a treatise for use in Indiana Commercial Court litigation; and within the last few days the Committee modified its existing handbook on commercial court practice.
Indiana Commercial Court Treatise
In October 2022, the first edition of the Indiana Commercial Court Treatise was created and published through the efforts of the Indiana Commercial Court Committee’s Subcommittee on the Commercial Court Handbook and Treatise. A copy of the treatise can be found here.
The Commercial Court Committee was established by Indiana’s Supreme Court in 2019 (see our prior post), and includes judges, lawyers and academics. The Committee webpage, describing the Committee’s function and purpose, can be found here. It effectively succeeded the Indiana Commercial Courts Working Group, similarly created by Indiana’s Supreme Court in connection with establishing and developing commercial courts in Indiana.
The Treatise begins with a Note on Judging Business and Commercial Law Litigation, written by Professor Frank Sullivan, Jr., of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Professor Sullivan describes his Note as addressing “two themes that permeate the adjudication of much business and commercial law litigation: reconciling applicable statutory and common law principles; and interpreting contracts.”
The 109 page document includes seven chapters, each broken down into detailed subsections, on (1) non-compete, non-solicitationm and non-disclosure; (2) fiduciary duties (close corporations and LLCs); (3) the Uniform Business Organizations Administrative Provisions Act; (4) piercing the corporate veil; (5) TROs, preliminary injunctions, and permanent injunctions; (6) receivers and custodians; and (7) class actions.
Indiana Commercial Court Handbook
The Committee’s effort in creating the Treatise, and the seriousness with which Indiana approaches making its business court operate at a highly informed and functional level, is reminiscent of efforts in creating the Indiana Commercial Courts Handbook. The Handbook was originally developed by the Indiana Commercial Courts Working Group in 2018. The most current version of the Handbook, just modified on January 31, 2023, can be found here. The original 2018 version can be found here, for those seeking to review how the Committee has modified these guidelines over time.
The 183 page Handbook includes a wide range of topics beginning with the background and history of the Indiana Commercial Courts and how the Handbook was developed. Very practically, it includes the Commercial Court Rules.
It then includes considerations of the Judge’s role, counsel’s role, Commercial Court masters, Court appointed experts, and related litigation.
The Handbook goes on to address the details of case management conferences, discovery and discovery management, pre-trial and trial practices, awarding attorney’s fees, and class actions. The text is much more granular than I am presenting in this brief general description.
Finally, the Handbook includes a long set of appendices with relevant forms. These appendices include such subjects, among others, as appointment of masters, ESI, stipulated protective orders, and forms addressing the various stages of a case ranging from getting the case into the Commercial Court through trial.
The last appendix, Appendix Q, includes a lengthy “Summary of the Academy of Court Appointed Masters Benchbook”.
Both the Treatise and the Handbook may provide food for thought to courts outside Indiana, both as to substance and to the very creation of such tools in the first instance.