In light of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Courts of the State of Delaware have issued various standing orders to institute precautionary methods in dealing with this worldwide pandemic.   A full list of the orders and related press releases can be found on the Delaware Judiciary’s website.

A summary of the orders and press releases issued by each Delaware State Court is set forth below:

Delaware Supreme Court

  • Issued an Order dated March 13, 2020 declaring a Judicial Emergency, which will go into effect on Monday, March 16 at 8:00 a.m. ET.
  • Pursuant to the Order, the declaration gives all trial courts in Delaware the flexibility to continue trials and hearings in civil and criminal cases for 30 days.
  • The declaration will also limit the number of people gathering in public court buildings.
  • During the period of judicial emergency, all time requirements under the Speedy Trial Guidelines are tolled.
  • See Press Release, Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Declares Judicial Emergency, dated March 14, 2020.

Delaware Court of Chancery

  • The Court of Chancery issued a Standing Order Concerning COVID-19 Precautionary Measures.
  • The Order permits court proceedings to be held telephonically when practical and efficient.
  • Where a telephonic hearing is not feasible (i.e. a trial),  and involves the presence of a person who (i) may be infected with COVID-19, or (ii) has been in the presence of a person who may be infected within the past 14 days, the parties shall meet and confer and notify the Court of any agreement or disagreement on how to proceed.  Parties should consider the use of videoconferencing, whether an alternative person is available, and whether a continuance is appropriate.

Delaware Superior Court

  • Today, the Delaware Superior Court issued Standing Order No. 2, which, among other things, suspends all civil and criminal trials through April 15, 2020.
  • Issued Standing Order No. 1, which, like the Court of Chancery’s Standing Order, permits hearings to be held telephonically, and sets procedures for in-person hearings such as trials that would involve  the presence of an individual who may be infected with COVID-19, or has been in the presence of an individual who may be infected within the past 14 days.

The Court of Common Pleas and Justice of the Peace Courts have likewise issued similar standing orders in response to the coronavirus.  Stay tuned for further updates from the Delaware Courts in response to this worldwide pandemic.

Carl D. Neff is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Carl is admitted in the State of Delaware and regularly practices before the Delaware Court of Chancery, with an emphasis on shareholder disputes. You can reach Carl at (302) 622-4272 or at cneff@foxrothschild.com.